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Cougar men shut out UMAC soccer teams

For three straight games, the University of Minnesota, Morris men's soccer team has posted 3-0 shut outs against Upper Midwest Athletic Conference teams.

UM-Morris 3

Bethany Lutheran 0

The Cougars opened conference play with a 3-0 shut out of Presentation, a result they replicated Sept. 18 in Mankato against Bethany Lutheran.

Historically, the Cougars had found it difficult to play well at Bethany, largely because of their field, according to head coach Christian DeVries.

"Here it's a much smaller field than we're used to and that makes it seem crowded and congested. And it makes possessing the ball very difficult. But today we didn't have that problem. We played one and two touch very well. I was really happy about that."

That advantage in possession led to a lop-sided margin in shots for the game. The Cougars took 30 to the Vikings four, and outshot them on goal 11-0.

The goals, which had been hard to come by in non-conference play, arrived early.

In the 21st minute, senior forward Brent Diggs ripped a shot that rebounded off a side post. Junior Mattson Towley was there for the easy put back and 1-0 lead.

Fifteen minutes later, Diggs scored on a pass from senior midfielder Pat O'Connor, burying a shot in the lower left corner for a 2-0 halftime advantage.

One minute into the second half, midfielder Kelsey Duerr took a pass from Jeff Lind and launched a shot from 25 yards out that lasered into the net.

"That was the goal of the year so far," DeVries said. "Nobody was stopping that shot."

With a 3-0 lead, DeVries turned to his bench. The subs held off the late Viking charges, helping goalkeeper Tyler Weber earn the shutout.

"It was nice to go to our bench like that. Those guys kept their composure and gave our starters a break," DeVries said. "It shows that our team overall is developing as a unit."

UM-Morris 3

Martin Luther 0

The Cougars continued the trend in New Ulm Saturday with a 3-0 victory over Martin Luther College.

The key to the Cougars' turnaround has been early offense. At the 4:24 mark, Towley took a free kick, a designed play, into the box where Duerr headed it home. A minute and four seconds later, Towley picked up another assist, this time to Diggs, who rocketed home a shot from 25 yards out.

With the early lead, the Cougars could relax.

"When you score early, that puts pressure on the other team, and that has been key for us," said DeVries.

The Knights came out with renewed energy in the second half and managed to launch an early shot on which goalkeeper Tyler Simpson made a fingertip save. With the save, the Knights lost momentum and UMM took control again.

UMM managed several more shots in the second half but only one, by Towley, found the net.

"That was a pretty goal. Just some nice tic-tac-toe passing in the box," DeVries said.

The Cougars took 40 shots (17 on goal) to Martin Luther's five.

The victory rounded out a productive week for Towley who scored three goals and handed out three assists.

The win improves the Cougars' record to 4-3. This weekend they host Northwestern College and Crown College in Morris.