Spartans Fall to Cougars in 11 Rounds of Penalty Kicks

EAST LANSING, Mich. — It took 110 minutes and 11 rounds of penalty kicks to decide a winner between No. 13 Michigan State and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville in the first round of the NCAA men’s soccer tournament.

The Spartans, 9-0-1 at home, remained undefeated in regulation at DeMartin Stadium, tied 1-1 by the end of sudden-death overtime. Michigan State, however, could not match the Cougars in PK’s, losing 9-8.

“Well, that’s a coin toss,” MSU coach Damon Rensing said. “The penalty kicks are tough. I think SIUE called heads and I think that’s what kind of came out. Heads landed. It’s kind of a 50/50 thing. I thought the referees did a very good job. I thought it was well played by both teams. Credit to SIUE.”

SIUE moves on to face No. 15 seed Butler in the second round, while MSU’s season is done. Rensing’s Spartans finish with a 13-5-2 overall record.

“I would like to say that I am just very proud of this team,” Rensing said. “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.”

The first 45 minutes was all Spartans. MSU controlled possession and then put its foot on the gas pedal to close out the final six minutes of the half. Junior midfielder Michael Marcantognini opening the scoring by burying a shot from outside of the box into the upper left 90 with 5:08 left on the clock.

MSU went into the half leading 1-0. The Spartans also led in shots, 5-2, and corner kicks, 3-2.

Rensing thought the team played “a little conservative” to start the second half. The Spartans were missing open passes and allowing the Cougars to attack.

The wake-up call came at the 66:08 mark by way of a Keegan McHugh goal for the Cougars. The goal was the first of the season for the redshirt sophomore midfielder, but he finished it like a seasoned veteran, bending it over the outstretched arms of MSU keeper Jimmy Hague into the upper right 90.

The clock hit triple zeroes with the two teams even at one goal apiece.

Two ten-minute extra time halves were not enough to settle the match, either.

Five sets of penalty kicks–still not enough, tied 4-4.

MSU and SIUE went on to make their next four rounds of penalty kicks.

MSU miss. SIUE miss.

Hague kick save to keep PK’s tied 8-8.

MSU miss.

SIUE’s Austin Ledbetter completed the upset.

“It’s tough because we had one heck of a season,” sophomore forward Ryan Sierakowski said. “We were undefeated at home, and came out and beat some tough teams and, just in this game, we came out and we outplayed them for most of the game. We were up by one and then

The five Spartan seniors – which include two of MSU’s three captains, Dewey Lewis and Andrew Herr – played their last game wearing the green and white.

“The last thing I want to say is that I’m very proud of our seniors,” Rensing said. “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. 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.”

SIUE coach Mario Sanchez praised the competition from Michigan State.

“Hats off to Damon Rensing and the Michigan State team. That is a very, very good team, and obviously if you go down to PK’s it’s always a tough way to end a season. But I have a lot of respect for that team, and for what Damon has done. Not only here, but for college soccer.”