Reporting Shane Kitzman
That fresh face in the Carleton cafeteria?
The polite, modest first-year who dishes up the food, and swaps out the milk is not just any helping hand in the caf.
Yes, Branden McGarrity‘s getting an education at the top-notch liberal arts college situated in Northfield, Minn., but he’s also dishing out some serious knowledge on the soccer pitch this fall.
The forward’s 19 goals this fall are five more than the runner-up and his 42 points also are a MIAC-best.
Still, his success takes a backseat to the fact that his Carleton Knights are one overtime loss from being perfect this season.
The 17-1-1 squad hasn’t tasted defeat since Sept. 14 – that’s 14 straight contests.
And on Saturday, the Knights host a Gustavus team with an automatic NCAA tournament bid on the line.
Carleton is ranked No. 16 nationally, so they most likely won’t need to win to make the postseason. But having already beaten the Gusties 3-0 in St. Peter earlier this year makes the MIAC title game appear to be the bag.
Oh, and the Carleton program record for career goals is 35, set last year by Tim Wills. So, thanks to McGarrity’s stellar rookie campaign, that mark appears endangered.
The freshman forward took time out between scoring game-winning goals to share why the Illinois-native found his home-away-from-home at Carleton.
Why pick Carleton?
One of my friends from home has a brother who played soccer here. I found out about Carleton through him and met with Coach (Bob Carlson) and just liked what I saw with the program. I applied early decision.
With a breakout collegiate season this year, what kind of high school success did you have?
I was All-Section, but not All-State. No Division-I offers, but I did consider Loyola University in Chicago.
Surprised to lead the conference in goals, points?
The team sets me up pretty well and I just put the ball in. I give credit to the team.
Looking back, is it tough seeing your only loss was a 2-1 decision at St. John’s?
Definitely. It would have been awesome not to have lost a game. And it was nice to get a rematch against them in Tuesday’s playoff game (Carleton won 2-0).
Are the Carleton upperclassmen welcoming to a youngster taking such a predominant role offensively?
They’re great. I felt comfortable with the team right away.
Do you get a lot of trash talk from opposing MIAC teams, being a rookie?
Not too much. Maybe a bump off the ball here or there, but not a lot of trash talk.
Career-wise, what are you thinking?
(McGarrity scored a 30 on his ACT and had a 4.3 GPA at Glenbrook South)
I’m thinking math for my major and for a career, I don’t even know. That’s the benefit of a liberal arts school – I can take a lot of different classes and figure out a career path a bit later.
What are the team’s hopes/expectations for the NCAA tournament?
Right now, we’re just focused on one game – winning the MIAC playoff title. Then to go onto the NCAA tournament and do well there would be awesome.