As fall sports come to an end, here are some highlights of the seasons and what to be looking for as some teams continue to advance.
By Sebastian Studier and Ella Roberts
Bethel University’s volleyball season came to a close Tuesday Nov. 1 in the first round of the MIAC playoffs where they hosted the fifth-seeded College of Saint Benedict. In four highly competitive sets, the Bennies defeated the Royals with scores of 20-25, 25-23, 25-23, 25-18. This was the last game in blue and gold for almost the entirety of Bethel’s starting squad, as their fate was determined on selection day, Monday. This was BU’s 15th overall appearance in the MIAC Playoffs and their eighth consecutive appearance. Against St. Ben’s in playoff matches, the Bennies now pass the Royals at 3-2 overall. The last time BU and CSB met in the postseason was in 2015 when BU won the semifinal match 3-1. Bethel’s front row was a brick wall, averaging 2.03 blocks per set, ranking second in the MIAC and 26th nationally. Their 12.82 kills per set rank second in the conference and 32nd nationally.
Starters Kirstin Cotter, Kelsie Sealock and Hannah Wilhite were named to the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference 2022 Volleyball All-Conference Team. Wilhite became the 18th player in MIAC history to be a four-time honoree and was second in the MIAC with a .317 hitting percentage and a 9.56 assist per set. This is Cotter’s second All-MIAC honor with the most kills in the MIAC with 368 while averaging 3.79 kills per set and recording a .239 hitting percentage. After a 20-kill and seven-block performance in the playoffs, she was also named to the 2022 MIAC All-Playoff Team. This is Sealock’s first All-MIAC accolade, leading the team and second in the MIAC with 521 total digs while ranking third at 5.37 digs per set.
After a history-breaking performance Nov. 1 at Carleton College, the fifth-seeded Bethel University men’s soccer team saw its 2022 season come to a close, falling to the second-seeded St. Olaf, 3-0, in the MIAC Semifinals. BU finished the year 10-9-1 overall, marking the first 10-win season since 2009.
Thanks to wins in its final two matches of the season, the Bethel University men’s soccer team made its second overall appearance in the MIAC Playoffs and first since 2004. In their previous appearance, the Royals were a four-seed in a four-team playoff format, where they traveled to top-seed Gustavus. The Royals earned the fifth seed with 15 conference points and traveled to fourth-seeded and defending MIAC Playoff champion Carleton for the quarterfinals. They ended their 10-match losing skid to the Knights, after their 2-0 loss earlier in the year and made history after earning their first-ever MIAC Playoff victory in program history under the tournament format incorporated in 2003. The fifth-seeded Royals defeated the Knights with a goal from sophomore forward Youssef Abdallah in the 54th minute and junior goalkeeper Juan Valdivia Cortes’ third straight clean sheet.
Senior forward Matthias Caspari and freshman defender Ryan Swanda were both named to the MIAC 2022 Men’s Soccer All-Conference Team. Caspari led the team with eight goals, which also tied for the fourth most in the MIAC, two of which were game-winners. The leading assister was Zach Caouette with five. Youssef Abdallah and Ryan Swanda each added four assists. Jack Hanson and Isaac Howell each tallied five goals. Between the posts, Juan Valdivia Cortes posted four shutouts while holding a 1.45 goals against average. With 93 saves, he holds a 78.2 save percentage.
The Bethel women’s soccer team finished out their season Oct. 29 with a 3-2 victory over Augsburg at home. The Royals finished with a 5-8-3 (3-6-2) overall mark. The Royals narrowly missed out on a MIAC playoff berth for the second straight season, finishing four points behind the sixth-seeded Macalester College. The Royals last qualified for the MIAC playoffs in 2019 when they finished the season with a 14-6 (6-5) record, clinched the 6th seed in the MIAC playoffs and made a trip to the semifinals.
The Royals were able to finish the season on a high note against Augsburg thanks to two goals from Junior defender Abby Swanda with a penalty shot goal early at the 3-minute mark and a goal late in the game in the 80th minute. Senior defender Jess Van Wyk also found herself in the scoring column, with a goal in the 72nd minute. Sophomore goalkeeper Kate Green held down the fort for the Royals on the back end, with seven saves on the day.
Freshman forward Mialia Beilby was recognized for her impressive rookie season, being named to the All-MIAC Honorable Mention Team. Beilby finished the season second on the team in goals with four and first on the team for assists with two on the year. Junior defender Kelsey Bergan also had four goals on the year but did not outscore Junior forward Sonia Meyer who led the Royals in goals with six. The goalkeeping trio of Izzy Smith, Kate Green, and Cadence Becker shared the goal this season, with the three ladies posting a collective 1.69 GAA and .786 save percentage on the year.
After competing in the MIAC Championships, both the men’s and women’s team concluded the championship portion of the season by racing at the NCAA North Region Championship at St. Olaf Saturday.
The men’s team placed 21st at the NCAA North Region Championships with 568 team points. Captain Reese Thompson led the way for the Royals on Saturday with an 89th-place finish and a time of 26:32. Aidan St. George worked his way through the field on his way to a time of 26:57, which placed him 109th. Grant Graber followed closely behind in 112th place in a time of 27:02. Sophomore Gabe Kuecker ran an 8k personal best time of 27:18, which was 124th place overall. Freshman Tamu Abide rounded out the scoring with a 143rd-place finish with a time of 27:49.
The women’s team earned a 9th-place finish at the NCAA North Regional by scoring 296 team points on Saturday- their best finish since 2018. They were led by sophomore Josie Harms and her 37th place finish, finishing in 23:18. Mikayla Erlenborn finished in 38th place with a time of 23:23. Freshman Anna Cargill and captain Anna Decker both broke the 24-minute mark for the first time in their careers. Cargill ran 23:56 to place 61st, and Decker ran 23:59 to place 62nd. Evie Hage rounded out the scoring for the Royals, placing 98th with her time of 24:42.
Josie Harms earned ALL-MIAC honorable mention with her 20th-place finish and a time of 24:00, helping her team finish 6th at the MIAC Championships Saturday, Nov. 5. On the men’s team, Reese Thompson and Grant Graber earned All-MIAC honorable mention, helping their team place 8th at the MIAC Championships. Thompson led the way for Bethel, coming away with a season-best time of 26:10, placing him 18th overall. Graber landed in 25th place.
For the 11th time in program history, the Bethel University football team is headed to the NCAA Division III Football Championships being one of five teams to receive an at-large bid in the 32-team playoff field. The Royals will travel to Wheaton College (8-2), which also received an at-large bid, Saturday, Nov. 19, kicking off at noon.
After the Royals landed a perfect 4-0 Skyline Division record following last week’s 30-27 victory at Augsburg landing No. 9, they fell to No. 5 Saint Johns who finished 4-0 in the Northwoods Division after defeating Carleton 45-16 last week at home. BU entered the match on a seven-game winning streak, a mark that ties the longest since 2013. BU’s 28-24 win earlier in the season snapped an eight-game losing skid to the Johnnies. While the Royals held the Jonnies to 74 rushing yards, they threw five interceptions and were 26-of-53 for 298 yards. SJU (9-1, 7-1 MIAC) was 30-of-43 with one interception and 323 yards.
This will be the Royals’ fourth time in program history in the playoffs, making back-to-back appearances in the postseason. Last season the Royals received an at-large bid and travelled down to Central College in Iowa, where they were defeated 61-35.
The Royals and Thunder will meet up for the first time since 2010 when BU defeated Wheaton on the road 15-10 in the second round of the NCAA playoffs. The two previous meetings came in the regular season where Wheaton took both with just a three-point margin each.