Spartans' Run Ends In Elite Eight On PKs At Indiana
Hoosiers advance to College Cup on penalty kicks, 3-2, after 1-1 draw in MSU's third Elite Eight in five years.
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Michigan State's NCAA postseason run came to a heartbreaking end after tying 1-1 in overtime before falling, 3-2, on penalty kicks at Indiana Friday night in the Elite Eight round of the NCAA Men's Soccer Tournament at IU's Jerry Yeagley Field at Armstrong Stadium.
MSU Box Score vs. IU
The Spartans' season ends with a 13-3-4 overall record, while IU advances to the College Cup with a 17-0-6 mark.
"First off, I would certainly like to congratulate Todd Yeagley, his staff and their program, on advancing to the College Cup. We know them pretty well and that's a staff that I really respect. I think when you have staffs that you respect, and they're up there at the top, you want to beat them the most because that says something. I want to wish them all the best in the College Cup, and we will certainly be pulling for our Big Ten brethren to win this national title for the Big Ten," MSU head coach Damon Rensing said.
The Spartans scored in the second minute on a goal by junior forward Ryan Sierakowski, becoming the first team to have a lead on Indiana all season, and led until midway through the second half, when IU scored. MSU had opportunities late in regulation and both overtime periods, especially with junior forward DeJuan Jones dictating pace and controlling action.
"As for my guys, I'm extremely proud of them. We started out really well in the first 20 minutes, especially the first two minutes with a great goal, but it didn't stop there, we kept going. DeJuan had a great chance, their keeper had to make a diving stop, corner kicks, but Indiana is very good at gaining territory and they were on and they got going, certainly for the rest of the first half and they came out flying to start the second half. They probably had other chances to score, actually the goal that went in, we'll have to go back and look at on video, but it was probably one that I wouldn't have expected to go in, as opposed to maybe a couple others," Rensing said.
Despite MSU's swarming attack, the Spartans just couldn't net the game-winner.
"Once the game was tied, our guys were great again. I think that's part of soccer, you get up and we get maybe a little too defensive, so it's all part of the ebbs and flows of the game. Certainly the last 15 minutes of regulation and the overtimes, we were the aggressors," Rensing said.
This is the second-straight season that MSU's campaign closed in similar fashion, ending on penalty kicks, 9-8, to SIU Edwardsville last year. It is also the second time in four years for the Spartans to reach the Elite Eight.
"Unfortunately when it comes to penalty kicks, it's a game of chance," Rensing said. "I'll say this for my guys, if I had to do it all over again, I'd pick the same five. That's how much I believe in them, and I give those guys the courage to come and take this. That's not easy, my five guys decided to step up and represent Michigan State University and put their team on their shoulders, along with our goalkeeper, and I give them a lot of credit."
Redshirt junior goalkeeper Jimmy Hague made a career-high eight saves, tying his previous career-best of seven in the first half alone. Many of those eight saves were of the spectacular variety, diving, sprawling and reaching to thwart Indiana's scoring threats.
"There's a reason that he's a first-team All-Big Ten goalkeeper, we're very fortunate to have him back next year," Rensing said.
Sierakowksi spear-headed the Spartan attack, netting their goal and having several other opportunities.
"It's definitely a special honor to put on this jersey every week. I just want to thank all the seniors, obviously they were amazing with two Elite Eights in four years. I learned a lot from them all. They're amazing leaders. Just training together and being a part of this program, and representing Michigan State is a great honor and I'm very grateful," Sierakowski said.
The Spartans burst onto the scoresheet with a goal in the 2nd minute at 43:21 on a header by Sierakowski off assists from Jones and senior midfielder Ken Krolicki. The goal-scoring play started on a throw in deep in IU territory by Krolicki, throwing in to Jones, who dribbled and passed back to Krolicki, who swung a pass into space in the box, where Sierakowski came on and headed it past IU goalkeeper Trey Muse and into the net.
It marked the first time this season that the Hoosiers have trailed. The second minute goal was also the Spartans' earliest goal of the year, topping a 4th minute score against Virginia Tech in MSU's second-round victory.
MSU's defense was tested shortly after, with Hague making three spectacular saves, the latter in the 22nd minute, diving up and to his left to get a hand on the speeding bullet of a shot and tipping it over the bar. The great wall of Hague stood tall and resolute again in the 36th minute, making back-to-back saves from point-blank range and keeping the Hoosiers off the board. Just 30 seconds later, the post lived up to its nickname as the goalkeeper's best friend, as a shot by IU's Andrew Gutman went off the post.
Hague came up big again in the 45th minute, making a diving save on the ground to his right, turning away Cory Thomas' rocket of a shot. It was Hague's seventh save of the opening half, tying his carer-high for saves in the first half alone.
Indiana stormed out of the gates to start the second half, ramping up pressure on the Spartan defense, finally breaking through in the 60th minute, scoring off a corner by Trevor Swartz.
Michigan State had a great scoring chance in the 74th, but junior midfielder John Freitag's back-to-back shots were turned away, and keeping the score level. The Spartans threatened again in the 88th minute, but Sierakowski's shot went wide. The score remained 1-1 for the rest of regulation, sending the match to extra time.
In the first extra frame, Sierakowski again had a quality scoring chance, but his shot in the 97th minute was contested by the IU defense and went wide left. MSU earned a foul outside the IU box with 47 seconds left. Sierakowski's shot was blocked by the wall and the Spartans couldn't get a shot off in a scurry in the waning seconds, ending the first overtime period.
MSU controlled pace and play in the second stanza, with junior defender Connor Corrigan firing a shot in the 106th minute, but was saved by Muse. The Spartans had another chance in the 109th minute, but the opportunity was denied by an offside call, keeping the match even a 1-1 and forcing it to come down to PKs.
Michigan State made two penalty kick shots, but was denied by Muse on two penalty kicks, while missing a third. Indiana made three of its PKs, with Hague making one save, as the Hoosiers advanced to the College Cup.