Nov. 24, 2013
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Amid 20 degree temperatures and 11 mph winds, the 11th-seeded Michigan State men's soccer team kept its season alive in dramatic fashion, scoring late into double overtime to advance past Louisville 1-0 in the NCAA Tournament Second Round on Sunday. Junior Tim Kreutz' header 6:29 into the second OT advanced the Spartans (13-5-3), who will face sixth-seeded Georgetown on Sunday, Dec. 1.
After a balanced afternoon of attacks for both squads, it was a possession off a free kick that ended the game. Off a Louisville foul at midfield, senior Kevin Cope lofted a free kick into the box, where classmate Adam Montague flicked the ball up to Kreutz, who knocked it past the keeper inside the left post. It was the ninth goal and fourth game-winner of the season for Kreutz.
Michigan State advances to the NCAA Sweet 16 for the second time in the last four seasons.
The No. 17 Cardinals ended their season with an 11-5-4 record.
"First of all, congratulations to the University of Louisville," said head coach Damon Rensing. "They run a class program and they were a great team. I thought the quality of soccer that was played between these two teams under these conditions was special. It was a very good soccer game. The ground was very firm and cold, but the ball movement and technical ability that both teams showed was special and it was a fun game to be a part of.
"It was a little hard to defend on the ground and we thought if we could get the ball wide when we switched the ball of attack, we could do that. I thought Brent McIntosh was dangerous all day running at guys. It's hard for defenders on both our team and theirs to defend under these conditions. I thought if we could get it out wide and get after guys, we could create chances and we did. We were probably unfortunate to not get one of those two goals to go in; one offsides and Rutz had a great chance near the end. But we stuck together and stayed at it and had a great finish by Tim. Just when you think it's going to penalty kicks with three and half minutes left, Kevin (Cope) had a great ball in there. We recently subbed (Adam) Montague on and it was great to see him back and contribute; he goes up for a challenge and it was great. Tim (Kreutz) just looked for it and I think he caught the goalie out and was able to skip it over his head. The poise that Tim showed on that was great. It's not easy to do in a bang-bang game and just to compose himself and get a little dink, it was great to see that ball roll into the net."
The Spartans outshot the Cardinals, 8-3 in the first half, but it was Louisville that had the most chances early on. They earned a dangerous shot off a deflection that was picked up by Zach Bennett in goal.
As both teams shared possession of the ball, Kyle Rutz stepped up for the MSU offense with a target on net that forced the Louisville keeper to jump up for the save.
With the Cardinals driving down the field, Ryan Keener charged to break away what would have been Louisville's best chance yet and forced a corner kick that was quickly picked up by Bennett out of the goal.
Both teams kicked off the second half adding pressure on either sides of the pitch. As Louisville charged down the field into MSU territory, Kevin Cope beat the attacker at top of the key to keep him out of the box.
Ryan Thelen took MSU's first corner kick of the day with almost 30 minutes left in regulation that was bounced around in the box before he was able to send a target on the net forcing Louisville to make a diving save.
Louisville's leading scorer Ricardo Velazco turned it up in the second half, sending an onslaught of shots at the MSU net, but Bennett continued to keep out any chance the Cardinals had at goal.
With just under 20 minutes left in the game, a cross from Thelen set up the most dangerous opportunity for the Spartans in the Louisville box as Brent McIntosh sent a sure target in the net that was just barely saved by the Cardinals' keeper.
The Spartans created another chance as McIntosh connected with Rutz for a goal that was sent into the net, but the goal was kept off the board as Rutz was called for offsides.
Louisville quickly answered as Velazco sent in his sixth shot on the day, followed by another Cardinal target, but both were met by Bennett's hands to stay out of the net. With the clock winding down, the match remained scoreless at the end of regulation.
MSU came out aggressive to begin the first overtime period, maintaining strong possession of the ball. Multiple Louisville fouls set up strong restarts for the Spartans, but Michigan State was unable to capitalize on the opportunity and the game was sent into a second overtime period.
Though Michigan State continued to hold onto solid ball movement, Louisville added pressure in the second overtime by putting numbers forward. Driving down the field, a Cardinal attacker got a clean shot on goal, but sent it just wide of the net with under five minutes remaining. Velazco followed with another wide shot less than a minute later. In the Spartans seventh double-overtime game of the year, Kreutz sent in the game-winner 107th minute to advance MSU to the third round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Spartans survive and advance to play sixth-seeded Georgetown on Sunday, Dec. 1 at 1 p.m. in Washington, D.C.