As a soccer alumnus from the late 80s, I have always loved fall. Playing in a beautiful setting on a crisp fall day with dedicated teammates brings back great memories; and for the longest time I could imagine no better place to play than at Saint John's. Until now, that is. All that changed in 2013, when Saint John's built Haws Field. Overnight it became one of the best soccer fields in the Midwest.
The results show in the current Johnnie soccer team, which has gone 7-0 at home this year and finished the regular season on Saturday with a win over St. Olaf. Saint John's now takes a 12-3-1 record into its MIAC playoff game on Wednesday; and not accidentally it's the second consecutive year in which Saint John's has hosted a playoff game.
In his 6th season as head coach, John Haws '99 continues the successful program his father Pat Haws '72 built while coaching from 1978-2009. The team has continued to improve, and in each of the last two years it has knocked off the #1 seed in MIAC tournaments. The next step is to win the MIAC outright and advance to the NCAA national tournament; and with a veteran team and a strong season finish, the team looks poised to take that step.
Along with great coaching and solid recruiting, a key factor in Johnnie success has been the opening of Haws Field. The generosity of alumni and family and friends has made possible this state-of-the-art field, which includes a natural grass playing surface, permanent dugouts, bleachers, a custom retaining wall and scoreboard. Pat Haws, who retired as the winningest coach in Minnesota history, could only marvel at the great facility made possible by the generosity of lead donors and so many others:
"I continue to be ever thankful to Coborns, Inc. for the magnificent gift to Saint John's athletics and to Saint John's soccer specifically, and to the many other great people who have reached deep into their pockets to help fund our beautiful soccer setting. I have a hard time believing there is a more picturesque setting in NCAA soccer. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!"
The generosity has not stopped there, however. Other donors have supported soccer at Saint John's through the Set the Wall initiative. Set the Wall is made up of forty rock wall seats that surround the pitch, and to date twenty individuals or families have stepped forward to place their names on seats. Their support has helped to make Haws Field a reality.
Yet another initiative has been the Legacy Dugout, headed by Terry Leiendecker '84. The dugout keeps the players warm during and between play. The 80s was a time of great success, and teams from Saint John's captured five MIAC championships and won two berths in the NCAA national tournament. As an All-American goalkeeper, Terry was a major factor in the success of the 80s SJU teams. He still holds records for the most career shut-outs and goals-against average over the sixty-five games in which he played. He gladly welcomes players from the 80s to join him in naming the dugout after the 80s Legacy!
I have to conclude that this is an exciting time for soccer at Saint John's. With a deep tradition, with great facilities, and with a strong team, the foundation is set for a national championship. Is success only a matter of time? Let's hope so!
[Editor's note: If you would like to add your support for soccer at Saint John's, be in touch with Michael Cummings, whose contact information is listed when you click Contact Us below.]