Storm take on IIAC juggernaut in Tournament, but confidence rides high


by Brock Borgeson, Sports Editor

Key Stats

SIMPSON (9-8-3, 5-2-1)

No. 20 LORAS (12-4-1, 7-0-0)

361 shots – 1st in IIAC

124 pts, 44 goals – 1st in IIAC

150 corner kicks  – 1st in IIAC

15 goals allowed, 9 shutouts -1st in IIAC

Tyler Neumann, 8 assists – 2nd in IIAC

Jacob Petersen, .809 save % -1st in IIAC

Pochop, Varnum & Jacobson – 7 goals

Jorge Simon, 1.12 PPG – 3rd in IIAC

Loras is No. 20 in the nation and the No. 1 seed in the Iowa Conference tournament.

They haven’t missed the conference tournament championship game since 2002, and have won six tournament titles since 2005.

“Loras is always a big team when they come around,” Schafer said. “We want to upset them and we look to it as a challenge when we play against them.” 

Sure they’ll be tough, but Wednesday’s matchup against the league’s best comes at no better time for Simpson.

The Storm have won five straight and are coming off one of the most dramatic wins in recent history for men’s soccer, a penalty kick win over Wartburg in the first round of the IIAC Tournament.

And to boot, the only other team to win the Iowa Conference tournament since 2002, that isn’t Loras, was Wartburg. Saturday’s win was big for Simpson soccer. 

“Our confidence is running high and we are feeling good,” Schafer said. “It’s good to have confidence going into Loras.”

Historically, Simpson has struggled mightily against Loras. It hasn’t beaten the purple and yellow since 2002, the last season Loras missed the IIAC Championship game. 

The Storm’s last win came in a 2-1 victory on Sept. 28, 2002 before going on an 0-14 streak since then. 

This season, Simpson’s only meeting with Loras was a 3-0 loss in Dubuque. The Duhawks scored every goal on a header, something Simpson’s backline hopes to address. 

“They love playing balls in the air, so I’m going to have to be sharp and focused and win those balls,” Schafer said. 

Schafer wasn’t in goal against Loras, having taking over for Zach McEntee as the starting netminder in a 1-1 draw against Luther on Oct. 10. 

In fact, he hasn’t played Loras in his career.

“I’ve never played Loras so I’m really excited about it,” Schafer said. “They’re a really big team.”

Simpson hasn’t lost in conference play since Oct. 3 and has outscored opponents 15-2 in its five-match winning streak.

They’ll focus on themselves and look to repeat this type of play on Wednesday.

“We are just trying to play our style of soccer and not get wrapped up in the emotions that will be in the game,” Schafer said.

Loras is a deep team, having 15 players scored this season and with six with at least four goals.

Simpson will have to account for a number of players, led by forward Jorge Simon who has scored eight goals this season.

But unlike Schafer, the Simpson team is brimming with veterans who know what the Duhawks are all about.

“So, we are hoping that 2015, with as many seniors as we have, is the year that we can finally knock off the ‘Lorases’,” head coach Rick Isaacson said.