The Tommie soccer regular-season is officially at the halfway point: Now 34 days down and 31 to go.
The men's and women's conference races are starting to take shape, and multiple teams appear capable of staying in the championship chase.
Both the St. Thomas women and men have been tested thus far with strong schedules and close games. In fact, of the 19 opponents on the St. Thomas schedules through Oct. 1, only two currently have a losing record, and eight have two or less losses.
While both St. Thomas teams have smaller senior classes, both appear to be on the upswing as newer players build chemistry together.
The Tommie Women (6-2-1 overall, 2-1 MIAC) are ranked No. 17 in the national poll. Coach Sheila McGill's team pushed its home-field unbeaten streak to 18 with Wednesday's 0-0 tie against regional contender Wartburg (6-1-3).
There are two unbeaten teams and five one-loss teams in conference play so far on the women's side. But to illustrate the league's parity, on Wednesday first-place Bethel took its first loss 2-1 on the road against an 0-7-1 team, and second-place Augsburg needed overtime to win at home over a two-win team.
The St. Thomas men (4-3-3 overall, 3-1 MIAC) overcame an early cluster of ties and close defeats and have won three in a row. Carleton (2-0) leads the Tommies and three other one-loss conference teams.
Coach Jon Lowery and his peers across the MIAC know that this season, there will be no easy Ws in a league marked by better balance. As of yet, no dominant squad has emerged as the single team to beat.
Saturday's home men's and women's soccer doubleheader between the host Tommies and St. Olaf produced final scores that caused double takes. Plus a box score that stat nerds could savor.
St. Thomas scored 12 goals on the day in a coed sweep that included a 6-1 men's victory and a 6-0 women's win.
Threes were the day's magic number: Both the men and the women scored three goals in the first half and three more in the second half, and the men moved their season record to 3-3-3.
The women scored the program's most goals in a conference game since 2012. And they avenged their only MIAC loss from the 2018 season (1-0 at St. Olaf).
Teamwork was on display: The day's 12 goals by Purple players included one own goal and 11 Tommie goals by 11 different players:
The men's goal parade started with goals by Jake Amey, Jacob Makela, Sean Kurtenbach, Jack Barry and Raphael Stavrides. It was also the first collegiate goal for Stavrides, a native of Nicosia, Cyprus.
The women's goals were recorded by Tessa Trettel, Lexi Serreyn, Kaley Roberts, Elizabeth Luotto, Kristen Epperly and Kate Heimer.
Also, both Purple starting keepers allowed no goals: Troy Louwagie in 68 minutes, and Sarah Pasternak in 90 minutes.
For the women, that extended another unique stat: Ten different players have scored the team's last 10 goals. Saturday's six were added to the last four in a 5-1 win over Carthage on Sept. 22 from Maddie Bomsta, Mari Ferrer-Lugo, Callie Haertle and Ellie Eskierka.
Halvor Houg scored the Tommie men's previous goal. Then Jonathan Acevedo scored the first of three goals Tuesday in a 3-1 defeat of St. John's. That streak of seven different players scoring the last seven goals ended when Amey score the go-ahead goal Tuesday just before halftime.
In all, the Tommie men have goals or assists from 12 different players, while the women also have goals or assists from 12 different athletes. No St. Thomas players have scored more than four goals.
Wednesday's tie with Wartburg was also the Tommie women's 51st shutout in the last five seasons, covering 91 games. St. Thomas has allowed only five goals in nine games this season.
The Tommie men have allowed just nine goals in regulation time through their 10 games.
The women are unbeaten (74-0-2) since early in the 2010 season in games when they score multiple goals (both ties came against UW-La Crosse).
Next up Saturday for the Tommie teams is a conference twinbill at Bethel. Both Royals teams will be hungry on their Homecoming weekend, as both are coming off one-goal losses to Macalester.
With such a balanced MIAC race in progress, it's good news for the Purple that they have such balanced teams.
Gene's Blog is a sports column penned by UST sports information director Gene McGivern. Gene is starting his 26th season at St. Thomas and 32nd overall in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. He blogs periodically on various topics regarding the Tommies, the MIAC and Division III sports.
If you have comments or questions, e-mail Gene at email@example.com