It's crunch time for football, volleyball and cross country with NCAA championshi[p and playoff events on UST's Friday-Saturday schedule.
In all, nine UST teams compete this weekend, including five winter sports and four fall sports.
St. Thomas will open the NCAA Division III football playoffs at noon Saturday in O’Shaughnessy Stadium against St. Scholastica in what will be a first-time matchup between the two teams. Perhaps the biggest surprise was that the NCAA placed St. Thomas, ranked third by d3football.com, in a region that includes four teams from the East. The Tommies played all West Region teams in 2009 and 2010 playoff runs, winning their first two games both years before losing in the quarterfinals. In St. Scholastica, St. Thomas will play a school that didn’t have a football team until four years ago. The Saints, 22-16 in those four years, won the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference this season in cruising to an undefeated season and their first NCAA playoff bid.
For ticket info and live video and live stat links , click here:
St. Thomas (32-4) will open the NCAA tournament Friday with a 5:30 p.m. quarterfinal match against Eastern (Pa.), which beat perennial power Juniata in its region final, 3-1. The 11th-ranked Tommies zoomed to a 3-0 win at Concordia-Moorhead last Sunday to punch their ticket to this weekend's national tournament in St. Louis. It's the second consecutive region championship for Coach Thanh Pham's Tommies. UST had lost all six previous region final matches in school history before breaking through in 2010. It's also the second year in a row that the Tommies lost in the MIAC playoff finals and avenged that defeat eight days later in the NCAA region final.
For pairings, times and live video links regarding the NCAA National Championship, click here:
Men’s and Women’s Cross Country
Last year’s national runner up and this year’s Region Athlete of the Year, Ben Sathre, will be looking to complete his senior year undefeated when he competes in an 8,000-meter run on Saturday in the NCAA Cross Country Championships. His race will begin at noon in Winneconne, Wis., where he will be the top returning runner in a field of 280 runners.
Two Tommie women's cross country runners –- junior Taylor Berg and sophomore Erin Statz -- were also selected to run in next Saturday's NCAA cross country championships hosted by UW-Oshkosh. The 6,000-meter women's race starts at 11 a.m. in Winneconne, Wis. It will be Berg's second trip to the NCAA cross country meet, and Statz' first. At the 2010 national meet, Berg placed 53rd in 22:02. Berg also ran on an NCAA champion relay indoors in March 2010.
For more information of Saturday’s races, click here: http://www.titans.uwosh.edu/
The St. Thomas men’s basketball team begins its season tonight in Los Angeles as it plays the first of two weekend games in California. The first will be Friday against Occidental at 9:30 p.m., Central game. UST also plays Saturday against Pomona-Pitzer at 7 p.m. in Claremont.
With the loss of five talented seniors from last year’s championship team and Steve Fritz’s retirement as head coach, 2011-12 UST men’s basketball team will be looking to usher in a new era, while sticking to the play and work ethic that got them to the top of D-III basketball last season. The 2011-12 team is expected to use another deep rotation of players. Senior honorable mention All-MIAC center Tommy Hannon is the Tommies’ only returning starter (12.2 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 59% FG). Leading the backcourt will be senior guard Peter Leslie; junior guard-forward John Nance; junior guards Will DeBerg and Noah Kaiser; and sophomore guard Erik Tengwall.
The St. Thomas men’s hockey team will look to stay hot with a home-and-home series this weekend against Gustavus. Friday’s game will take place in Mendota Heights at 7 p.m., and Saturday’s game will be played at 7 p.m. in St. Peter. The teams split the 2010-11 meetings, as Gustavus won 5-3 at home and UST answered with a 2-1 home win in overtime.
Gustavus went 15-10-2 last season and tied for third place in the MIAC. Five of their six games have been decided by one goal or gone to overtime. they split with Bethel last weekend in their first official MIAC games. The Gusties have just one senior, Ross Ring-Jarvi, who has played 92 career games and has 102 points.
Ten different players have scored UST’s 15 goals thus far in 2011-12. In last weekend’s 5-3, 5-4 sweep of St. John’s, the Tommies received 10 goals from nine different players. Travis Baker leads with four goals, while Robby Philipp has recorded three. St. Thomas is 13-3-1 so far in the Jeff Boeser head coaching era when it scores three or more goals.
Friday's home game will have live video here:
The UST women’s hockey team has a weekend series against No. 6-ranked Gustavus. The teams will play Friday in St. Peter at 7 p.m. and will host Gustavus in Mendota Heights on Saturday at 2 p.m. The Toms’ (1-0-2, 1-0-1 MIAC) will be looking to hand the Gusties (4-0, 2-0 MIAC) their first loss of the year. UST took three of four points from St. Ben’s last weekend.
Gustavus has the dominant conference team in recent seasons, with St. Thomas the most consistent challenger. Over the last nine seasons, Gustavus is 13-6-3 vs. St. Thomas and 135-4-3 against the other MIAC teams. Seventeen of the last 23 Tommie-Gustie meetings have been decided by one-goal or ended in a tie. The last six games have yielded just 15 total goals.
Saturday's home game will have live video here:
Men’s and Women’s Swimming and Diving
Both the UST men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams will compete in Saturday’s Ahlman Invitational beginning at 1 p.m. at Macalester.
Last weekend, the Tommies won men's and women's dual meets a Carleton and claimed the Margate Cream Cheese Trophy. The UST women scored a 175-121 victory, while the men tallied a 190-110 decision.
Divers Nick Johnson (three-meter) and Jennifer Easton (one-meter) both set Carleton pool records and qualified again for nationals. Both totals are also UST school records. Easton was named MIAC Swimming and Diving Athlete of the Week.
Emily Punyko was a triple winner, and her 100 breast time moved into second on UST's all-time list.