Gene's Blog: Boys of fall are climbing the charts

Gene's Blog: Boys of fall are climbing the charts
Tommie men's 2017 fall sports teams continue to enjoy unusual conference and national acclaim. 
 
St. Thomas is the lone institution at any level of NCAA or NAIA to have three fall men's teams currently ranked in the top five of national polls.
 
Tommie Football (7-1) is ranked No. 4 in both the D3Football.com and AFCA polls. The Tommies are attempting to win the program's third consecutive conference team title and claim an NCAA playoff berth for the eighth time in nine seasons.
 
Tommie Men's Soccer (15-1) is ranked No. 5 in the United coaches' poll. The Tommies, who tied for third nationally last season, are 17-1-2 in their last 20 games against conference teams. They need one win in their final two games this week to secure at least a share of the MIAC championship. They are attempting to become the first UST men's soccer team in 39 seasons to repeat as conference champs.
 
Tommie Men's Golf went 2-0 in October tournaments and zoomed to No. 5 in the GolfStat computer rankings and No. 6 in the Bushnell coaches' poll. St. Thomas was unranked when it beat 13 nationally-ranked teams last week in winning the 18-team Golfweek tournament. St. Thomas has secured a spot in the May 2018 national tournament -- it tied for fifth in the national meet in its last appearance, in May 2016. 
 
St. Thomas' other fall men's sport, cross country, is regionally ranked with a young roster.
 
(Three institutions are ranked in two fall men's sports: Alabama; D-II's Midwestern State; and NAIA's Oklahoma City.) 
 
 
Balance
 
St. Thomas' four fall teams have a combined record of 54-10-1. That includes a 27-4 slate in conference play and a 20-1-1 on-campus record.
 
The Tommies have already captured the MIAC team championship in men's golf, and lead the standings in football, men's soccer and volleyball. They have a shot at top-three conference finishes in all eight fall sports.
 
Besides the aforementioned men's trio, there are seven other Tommie teams currently nationally ranked:
  • Women's Hockey (10th);
  • Women's Swim-Dive (11th);
  • Men's Hockey (15th);
  • Men's Swim-Dive (23rd);
  • Volleyball (20th);
  • Women's Golf (26th, GolfStat);
  • Women's Cross Country (33rd).
St. Thomas Women's and Men's Basketball have a chance to be included in their sport's preseason top 25 polls when they are released in the coming days.
 
Later this school year, St. Thomas Softball, Baseball and Women's Tennis also have a good chance to make their sport's preseason rankings, and Track and Field likely will be represented in its national power rankings.
 
 
Stat of the Week
 
St. Thomas won the conference crown in men's golf, and sits either in first or second place in the conference in volleyball and men's and women's soccer.
 
The latter three teams have a combined record of 49-9-1. All four sports have been or are currently nationally ranked. 
 
If you assumed those teams have been well represented in this fall's MIAC weekly Athlete of the Week awards... you'd be incorrect.
 
No conspiracy, no controversy, though. Balanced, team efforts have kept the Tommies from having the kind of dominant individual performances that win these awards. Thus St. Thomas is 0-for-38 in the MIAC individual weekly awards so far in the sports of Volleyball, Soccer and Men's Golf.
 
Four Tommies have been recognized out of the 24 Football recipients thus far, and one has been honored in Men's Cross Country.
 
 
Defense Shines
 
Tommie Football and Soccer teams have recorded nine shutouts in 11 games this month and 53 shutouts in 97 games over the last two seasons. That includes 24 for the Tommie men and 25 for the UST women on the soccer fields. 
 
UST Football has allowed 12.0 ppg in its last 20 games (18-2 record).
 
Men's Soccer has given up 22 goals in 2016 and 2017 (35-3-3 record).
 
Women's Soccer has allowed just 12 goals in its last 36 games (28-6-2 mark).
 
 
More Superlatives
  
Men's Soccer has two impressive streaks: a school-record 12 wins in a row, and 12 home victories in a row.
 
On the gridiron, St. Thomas leads all NCAA programs this season in fewest first downs allowed (9.4 per game) and in fewest offensive yards allowed (182.4 ypg). 
 
In Division III stats, the Tommies are tied for first in tackles for loss (74); are second in both rushing defense (34.4 ypg) and third-down conversions allowed (22 percent). UST has only allowed 22 percent on fourth downs, as well. The Toms rank 10th in D-III in scoring defense (11.4 ppg).
 
Saturday's 84-0 victory at Hamline set modern school records for points and scoring margin. The 1913 Tommies had a 93-0 win over St. John's Prep.
 
The Toms also set a school single-game record for all-purpose yards with 878 -- 452 rushing, 217 passing, and 209 return yards.
 
Seven MIAC fall-sport contests are on the docket this week for Tommie teams, all in or near St. Paul. Stay tuned to see if the Purple express stays on track.

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Gene's Blog is a sports column penned by UST sports information director Gene McGivern. Gene is starting his 24th season at St. Thomas and 30th overall in the MIAC. He blogs periodically on various topics regarding the Tommies, the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) and Division III sports.

If you have comments or questions, e-mail Gene at ejmcgivern@stthomas.edu