EAST LANSING, Mich. - No. 13 Michigan State men’s soccer had its season come to a dramatic, heartbreaking end with SIU Edwardsville advancing on penalty kicks, 9-8, after the team’s battled to a 1-1 tie through a hard-fought 110 minutes Thursday afternoon at DeMartin Stadium in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
“I would like to say that I am just very proud of this team. I think about how we were 8-9-2 last year, went through the spring, it was kind of up and down in the spring and for them to come back and do what they did this fall – we should look at all of those things. 13-5 and this is a tie, so 13-5-2 really did a lot for this program and I’m very proud,” MSU head coach Damon Rensing said.
The Spartans end the season with a 13-5-2 record, including remaining unbeaten at DeMartin Stadium with a 9-0-2 mark at home. SIUE advances to the second round with a 10-4-5 record. The Cougars will face 15th-seeded Butler on Saturday in the second round.
“The last thing I want to say is that I’m very proud of our seniors. These five seniors, Dewey Lewis, Andrew Herr, Brian Winterfield, Austin Piwinski and Ali Scheib. One thing that I would like to say for them is that those guys aren’t always in the stat column, but they took care of stuff off the field, on the field, or whether it was just working hard in practice,” Rensing said. “Those are the unsung heroes that really make programs. It’s not just all about the All-Americans, it’s about all the kids. We had five of those kids for the last four years, and I’m very proud of them and lucky to coach them.”
Michigan State dictated pace and action early getting off a handful of shots. The Spartans finally broke through and took the early lead scoring in the 40th minute when junior midfielder Michael Marcantognini found the back of the net for the second time this season. The play began with passes from junior defender Jimmy Fiscus and junior midfielder Ken Krolicki, who got the ball to Marcantognini and the junior unleashed a laser from 25-yards out from the top of the circle to the upper left corner of the net past a sprawling SIUE goalkeeper Kyle Dal Santo.
The half ended with Michigan State holding the 1-0 advantage. In the first half, MSU outshot SIUE, 5-2. Dal Santo made two saves in the first 45 minutes, while the Spartan defense denied the Cougars from a shot on goal to pressure MSU junior netminder Jimmy Hague.
The Spartans held possession much of the second half, eventually out-shooting the Cougars, 19-9. Sophomore forward Ryan Sierakowski ended the game with a team-high seven shots in 110 minutes.
SIUE eventually found the equalizer in the 67th minute when Keegan McHugh took a long shot off a pass from Mohamed Awad and took a long shot from the top of the box to the top right corner of the net.
The Spartans countered with pressure, getting back-to-back chances on a frenzied scrum in front of the net in the 78th minute that Dal Santo denied with saves to keep the score level at 1-1. Neither team could net the game-winner in regulation, sending the match to overtime.
In the first extra period, MSU’s best scoring threat came in the 94th minute by Dal Santo again made a great save, this time off a header from Sierakowski, leaving the score even and sending the match to a second overtime period.
The second extra stanza was back-and-forth action, but again neither team to score, sending the contest to a shootout.
After the standard five shooters, the PK score was level at 4-4, with both Hague and Dal Santo making diving saves. The teams traded made PKs through the next four attempts, then both net-minders made kick saves in the 10th round. MSU’s 11th round attempt was high, while SIUE converted on its 11th attempt to move on to the second round to face Butler, advancing 9-8 on PKs.