Casey McCloskey's goal 68 seconds into overtime lifted St. Olaf to a 2-1 victory over Amherst in the championship game of the NCAA Division III men's soccer tournament on Sunday in Salem, Va.
The 11th-ranked Oles (20-3-3) completed the season with a 22-match unbeaten streak after starting 1-3, winning their six NCAA tournament games by a combined score of 19-7. They are the first MIAC team to win the tournament. Gustavus Adolphus was the runner-up in 2005.
"I guess this was kind of the time that I needed to step up, and I'm glad I did and finished the chances that I could and got our team to this point," McCloskey said.
McCloskey — who scored twice in Friday's semifinal victory over Washington College (Md.) — put St. Olaf up Sunday after taking a feed from Shea Bechtel, who found room to run up the middle in the 91st minute. The Oles held off the Mammoths (17-3-4) over the next 19 minutes.
"They had a misplaced pass in the midfield, and Shea was able to pick it up and skip past somebody, and slip Casey in, and Casey had some nerves of steel to slot in the bottom corner," Oles coach Justin Oliver said. "How it happened for us is kind of fortunate, but I mean, to get this far and win it all, you kind of need a little bit of good luck sometimes."
After a scoreless first half, Luke Ohadike scored in the 48th minute to give the Mammoths a 1-0 lead. Hakeem Morgan scored in the 61st minute — on an assist by McCloskey — to tie the score.
Oles goalkeeper Peter Forseth had three saves against Amherst, which lost in the national championship game for the third time in four seasons.
"If by chance we let one in, we've got the best offense in the country," Forseth said. "We'll get it back."
This is St. Olaf's second NCAA team title in school history, joining the 2013 men's cross-country team. Before this weekend, the only other time the Oles had advanced to the national semifinals in a bracket-style NCAA championship event was the women's volleyball team that finished third in 1996.
Diggins earns bronze
Jessie Diggins of Afton led the U.S. to a bronze medal in a women's 4x7.5-kilometer relay Sunday, her second World Cup medal of the weekend.
Diggins skied the first leg of the race in Gallivare, Sweden, setting a quick pace to give the Americans an early lead. She combined with Rosie Brennan, Sophia Laukli and Julia Kern to take third place behind Germany and Sweden. Diggins won a 10k freestyle Saturday in Gallivare and has three World Cup medals through the first two weeks of the season.