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MLC roundup: Football team tops Ripon College

RIPON, Wis. — The Martin Luther College football team overcame a slow start to win its long-awaited season opener 34-16 at Ripon College on Saturday.

The game did not start the way the Knights were hoping as the Red Hawks held a 10-0 lead early in the second quarter, but MLC dominated the from that point, scoring 34 unanswered points to get the season-opening win.

The run game once again led the way on offense for the Knights as they ran for 345 yards and four scores in the game. Austin DeNoyer scored a pair of first-half touchdowns, while Joshuah Kren and Elliott Butler added scores on the ground in the second half.

MLC only threw four passes in the game for 21 yards as the ground game chewed up yardage and clock. The Knights attempted 68 running plays in the game, and held the Red Hawks to only 54 offensive snaps.

Kren, the defending Upper Midwest Athletic Conference Most Valuable Player on offense from 2019, led the charge on the ground for MLC with 23 carries for 210 yards and one score. First-year back Carson Oestreich finished with 64 yards on 10 carries in his debut, while Butler added nine carries for 57 yards. DeNoyer, who played quarterback for much of the game, carried 22 times for 25 yards and two scores, and also threw a four-yard touchdown pass to Mike Radue in the fourth quarter.

After allowing two scores in the Red Hawks’ first three drives, the Knights’ defense settled in and took control the rest of the way. Ripon totaled 91 yards in its first three drives, but MLC held the Red Hawks to only 64 yards and zero points in their next seven drives, Two of those seven drives ended in turnovers, including a Brice Guse recovered fumble at the Ripon one-yard-line to set up the Knights for a go-ahead score late in the first half.

The Red Hawks finished the day with only 246 yards and 11 first downs.

Jake Kieselhorst and Noah Nordlie led the defense with eight and seven tackles, respectively. Guse and Adam Arrowsmith each finished with 1.5 sacks, while Guse and Abel Bain each recovered a fumble.

MLC moves to 1-0 following the win, while Ripon fell to 0-1 on its season in defeat.

The Knights will return to action on Saturday, when it travels to Minnesota Morris for a game scheduled to start at 1 p.m.

Volleyball

NEW ULM — The MLC volleyball team battled to a 3-1 defeat (25-8, 25-19, 29-31, 25-16) against UW-Superior (UWS) in Saturday’s regular season finale.

The Knights struggled to start the match, dropping the first set 25-8, but started to pick up steam in a more competitive (25-19) second-set loss.

In the third game, MLC matched the Yellowjackets with each hit, going back and forth until Rhianna Hunter finally recorded two straight kills to give the Knights the 31-29 win.

The Yellowjackets took control back in the fourth game, building a big lead on the way to taking the set and the match.

Kelsey Birschbach led MLC with 12 kills and two service aces, while Hannah Willems and Abigail Winkel chipped in from their spots in the middle with eight and seven kills, respectively.

Kylie Wolf led the team with 22 assists. Kate Aswege recorded a match-best 18 digs.

MLC closed the regular season with a 4-6 overall record to go with a 2-6 UMAC record. UWS improved to 7-1 overall and in league play with the win.

The Knights will return to action next week in the UMAC Postseason Tournament. MLC will be the tournament’s seven seed, and will face the yet to be determined six seed on Thursday, April 8.

Men’s soccer

SUPERIOR, Wis. — The MLC men’s soccer team lost its season opener at two-time defending UMAC champion UW-Superior (UWS) by the score of 8-0 on Saturday.

The two teams were scoreless for much of the first half, but the Yellowjackets jumped on the board in the 28th minute, and then added goals in the 40th and 44th minutes, respectively, to take a 3-0 halftime lead.

UWS added two goals in a span of 1:18 seconds in the 57th and 58th minutes, then scored three times in the final five minutes to finish with the final margin.

The Yellowjackets showed their depth and quality in the game, as six different UWS players scored a goal, and Blake Hanson and Nicolai Stokker each scored a pair of tallies.

Josh Higgins stopped five of the 13 shots on goal he faced in goal for the Knights. Josiah Wordell and Caleb Hengst were credited with the two MLC shots on goal.

MLC fell to 0-1 overall and in league play to open the season in defeat. UWS improved to 2-0 on the season and 1-0 in the UMAC with the win.

The Knights will return to action on Saturday, April 10, when they host St. Scholastica in the team’s home opener. That game is scheduled to start at 3:30 p.m.

Women’s soccer

SUPERIOR, WIs. – The Martin Luther College women’s soccer team opened its long-awaited season with a 3-0 defeat at UW-Superior on Saturday.

The Yellowjackets jumped in front late in the first half on a goal by Annah Schussman in the 35th minute to give UWS a 1-0 lead heading into halftime.

Schussman struck again in the 63rd minute to push the lead to 2-0, and Allison Alessi added an insurance tally for UWS in the 70th minute to give the Yellowjackets the final three-goal margin.

Mollie Fischer started the game in goal for the Knights and allowed three goals on seven shots on goal.

MLC was credited with six shots in the game, five of which came from Hannah Schroeder. Madeline Walz accounted for the team’s other shot.

MLC fell to 0-1 to open the season, while UWS moved to 1-0.

The Knights will return to action on Thursday, April 8, when they host Bethany Lutheran in a game scheduled to start at 3:30 p.m.

Softball

ST. BONIFACIUS, Minn. — The Martin Luther College softball team dropped both games of a non-conference doubleheader to Crown College by the scores of 6-5 and 9-1 (six innings) on Saturday.

In Game 1, MLC sophomore Elena Hoffman hit her 15th career home run, tying her with Karla Opperman (2008-11) for the school record.

Hoffman previously tied the MLC home run record with eight in 2019, and then hit six home runs in last year’s abbreviated season.

Crown 6, MLC 5

Crown jumped on top early and held on late to win game one 6-5.

MLC opened the game with a run in the top of the first inning, but Crown answered with three runs in each of the second and third innings to take a 6-1 lead.

The Knights cut into the deficit thanks to RBI hits by Samantha Schoch and Halley Engelbrecht in the fifth inning, and then added one run on a Lisa Hoffer single in the sixth to cut the Crown lead to 6-4.

Hoffman hit her record-tying home run to lead off the seventh, but the Knights stranded runners on second and third base to end the game.

MLC outhit the Storm 13-6 in the game, but was unable to take advantage as it left nine runners on base. Jordyn Heckendorf, Lexi Fischer, Emma Berg, Hoffer, Hoffman and Schoch each finished with two hits apiece.

Brett Burger (0-3) went the distance on the mound for the Knights, allowing six runs (four earned) on six hits and two walks in six innings.

Crown 9, MLC 1 (six innings)

Crown scored eight times in the final four innings on the way to a 9-1 win in Game 2 in six innings.

Berg’s RBI single in the second inning erased an early Crown lead, but the Storm answered with a pair of runs in the third inning, and then scored three times in both the fourth and sixth innings to earn the win.

MLC finished with seven hits, led by a pair of singles from Hoffer, Fischer and Berg.

Megan Pung (0-3) started the game for MLC and allowed six runs on eight hits in four innings of work.

MLC fell to 0-6 on the season following the two defeats, while Crown improved to 3-7 after the two wins.

The Knights will return to action on Monday, April 5, when they travel to Minnesota Morris for a doubleheader. First pitch is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.

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