MLC tops Buena Vista

NEW ULM – As a senior in high school, Aaron Markgraf scored two goals on penalty kicks to send his team to the state tournament.

While the spotlight may not have been shining as bright in Wednesday’s nonconference match against Buena Vista, Markgraf got a chance to re-live some personal history for Martin Luther College and he didn’t disappoint.

Markgraf scored two goals off of penalty kicks -one in each half – as the Knights defeated Buena Vista 3-2 at the Martin Luther College Soccer Field on Wednesday.

The goals were the third and fourth of the season for the senior and three of those goals this year have come courtesy of the penalty kick.

The win means the Knights improved to 5-4 on the young season. Wednesday’s victory was a tough one physically for the Knights. Buena Vista was called for three yellow cards in the contest in addition to the penalty kicks.

“We knew it was going to be a type game, this is a team that we’ve played a couple of times in the last two or three years and it’s always been that, so we were ready for that,” Markgraf said. “They’re a team that doesn’t back down from physicality, so when we see it, we give it right back.”

Caleb King had 11 saves in the contest, including some big ones at the end. The MLC defense was tested all game long by the Buena Vista speed, but in the end, the Knights held strong.

“They could really move, I thought we dealt with their speed okay,” senior defender Ryan Plath said. “We had a couple of issues getting beat down the line. I don’t know, it’s something you just work on, talk it out and keep moving forward I guess.”

Markgraf’s first score came at the 5:54 mark in the first half. There, he went to the right side, scoring past BVU goalkeeper Matt Tennyson.

The Beavers got the equalizer later in the half when Tui Hunkin scored off of an assist from Steve Nyaye at 28:18 on a corner kick.

While it was pretty even at that point, the Knights did get the momentum to shift just before the half when Aaron Swanson scored his third goal of the season. The unassisted goal came off a header of the goalkeeper’s hand and the Knights led 2-1 going into the break.

The Knights nearly went up 3-1 early in the second half, but Swanson’s shot hit the crossbar with 41 minutes left in the game. Markgraf did give his team a two-goal lead on his second penalty kick of the game with 31 minutes left. He again went right, putting it past the diving Manuel Aguilar, who dove the opposite way after falling for the trick.

“What I kind of like to do sometimes is I like to go up and look like I’m going to hit it hard, then ease up and I just kind of chip it straight in,” Markgraf said.?”I had that going into my head going in, but I?thought I wanted to hit this decently and I could see the keeper leaning to his side so I knew he was going to dive and I just wanted to put it in the middle.”

Down by two goals, Buena Vista continued to put pressure on MLC’s defense. Fabian Salazar brought Buena Vista to within a goal at the 77-minute mark.

Buena Vista had a number of chances late, but the MLC defense held strong.

MLC coach Paul Koelpin knew his team had quite a battle on its hands prior to Wednesday’s match.

“Good teams are going to do that, they maybe felt they were down in an unjustified way, so they’ve got a little chip on their shoulder and play all the way to the horn,” Koelpin said.

MLC hosts Northland at 4:15 p.m. on Saturday for its homecoming week.