Tony Harringer | Staff Writer
Christopher Juhn | Photographer
Coming off of a rough 2016-17 season, and their worst since 2013, Century College Men’s Soccer Team looked to start fresh and have a much better 2017-18 campaign. Winning just four of their 17 games last year, Century set much higher expectations for this coming season. They hope to get back to their 2015-16 season where they won 13 games in that season.
In their three exhibition games, the Wood Ducks looked much better by going 2-1 in three games with wins over FC Minneapolis and Anoka-Ramsey. A close 1-0 road loss to St. Thomas was their only blemish.
Heading into the regular season, Century had a great sense of confidence. Unlike last year where they lost their first three games. This year they entered with a more confident feeling.
Century’s first game of the season on Sept. 9 was against a familiar opponent, FC Minneapolis. Playing just 21 days prior, the two teams met again.
The Wood Ducks came out flying, controlling, and dominating play for the first half. By halftime it was 4-0 Century! Forward Toby Bridges recorded a hat trick in just the first half, scoring three of Century’s four goals. Midfielder Dylan White scored Century’s third goal in the first half.
Bridges scored the first goal for the Wood Ducks in the second half to tally his fourth goal of the game! Klinton Spencer brought their total up to six as he scored what would be a 6-1 rout for Century. FC Minneapolis scored a goal late, but the Wood Ducks proved to be too much.
Speaking with Bridges, he explained how the ball wasn’t really bouncing his way but to score four goals “was great.” When asked about how this performance would help them in their next game, he said “it’ll give us a better chance.” The last time Century played St. Thomas, they were shut out. Bridges described this game as a “top 5 performance” in his whole soccer career.
The Wood Ducks’ next game was on 12th, playing nationally ranked St. Thomas. A lot of excitement for Century as they were playing with a lot of confidence and had a big-name team coming to town. This was their chance to show people that they were for real.
In the first 20 minutes of the game, teams traded chances and opportunities, but both goalies held their ground. Then, on the 25th minute, Dylan White for the Wood Ducks put the ball on net. While trying to clear it, a St. Thomas player inadvertently put it into their own net. Century had scored to take the lead! The scored stayed the same into halftime as Century sat a half away from a big upset win.
St. Thomas came flying out in the second half. Five minutes, in they tied the game at one with a long throw in and put it past Calum Brodie. The game stayed tied for a long time, and St. Thomas got a rush going.
Brodie was caught out of position, and had no choice but to pull down the Tommies player. He saved a possible goal, but received a red card and was kicked out of the game. So, the Wood Ducks looked to their back up goalkeeper.
The game went to overtime, and Century got an iffy call by the referees, which gave St. Thomas a free kick. The kick came and Century’s goalkeeper got his glove on it, but couldn’t corral it all the way. It trickled into the net for the winner.
Century was disappointed and looked physically drained. They played an excellent game and just couldn’t believe the result. No time to hang their heads though, it was on to Gustavus on the 14th.
Despite coming off a tough loss, the Wood Ducks seemed like they had put the last game against St. Thomas out of their minds. The game started and looked determined to win. Passes were crisp and on the money. Communication between teammates were very clear. In spite of their great play early on, Century could not break through on the score sheet. The score was 0-0 on the half.
In the second half, the Wood Ducks continued their great play and finally on the 49th minute, they broke through and who else but Bridges was the scorer. Bridges recorded his fifth goal in three games on a free kick that went just under the crossbar.
Just four minutes later, the birthday boy Spencer scored on a header that glanced off the underside of the crossbar and in to give Century a comfortable 2-0 lead. They finally had been rewarded for their continuous pressure and great play.
Goalkeeper Brodie played the second half, after sitting out the first half and kept the zero up for Gustavus as Century won by a final score of 2-0. With the win, the Wood Ducks improved to 2-1-0 on the season.
Speaking with coach Hodgson post game, he seemed somewhat happy with the performance. He was happy “in pieces.” He liked that they had a lot of shots on goal, but would’ve liked to see more than just two goals. “Just having two goals with that many shots I’d like more, but we played well in parts.” Over the first three games, Hodgson described his team as “we’re getting better. We’re learning from our mistakes.”
On the chilly, cool evening of Sept. 18, Century played its first road game of the season against Augsburg College at Edor Nelson Field. Weather did play a factor in the first half, as rain lightly pelted the players on the field.
Teams traded rushes and chances, but no one could break through. A major shakeup in the first half, was midfielder Dylan White. By the 35th minute, he had received his second yellow card, which put out of the game for the rest of the match. The game remained scoreless at the half.
The Wood Ducks came out in the second half with a push by applying pressure and taking control of possession. Bridges was knocked down on a rush and awarded a free kick in the 65th minute. Bridges set up and went to the far bottom corner for the first goal of the game. A huge wail of elation came out of the Wood Ducks as Bridge’s sixth goal on the season hit the back of the net.
Four minutes later, Bridges was awarded another free kick. This time the kick caused a rebound and defenseman Hector Trigueros was in perfect position to tap it in for a 2-0 lead! Century now had a commanding lead and were able to run the clock out without allowing a goal as Century beat Augsburg 2-0 to improve to 3-1-0.
For their next game, the Wood Ducks traveled to Iowa to play Riverland College. Just like last game, Century dominated play in the first half, yet at the half had nothing to show for it and it was tied at zero.
Five minutes into the second half however Century broke through as they have so often this year. Forward Joseph McGrory broke through to give them the lead. The game stayed 1-0 for almost the rest of the match, but a goal by Century’s Brandon Watts in the 86th minute sealed the game. Century held on to win once again, 2-0 to improve to 4-1-0 on the season and stretch their winning streak to 3 games.
A great start to the season as well as consistently good play for Century shows promise that this team can have a very successful campaign. Plus, with four of their last seven games at home, things are looking very much in good shape for Coach Hodgson and his confident Wood Ducks team. Only time will tell how they do, but so far everything on paper shows that Century is a dangerous team that has a lot of potential for something special this year.