The Southern Illinois University Edwardsville men’s soccer team suffered a 1-0 defeat to top-seeded Missouri State in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament semifinals, eliminating the Cougars from the postseason.
“Tonight’s match was similar to a lot of our matches this season,” Head Coach Kevin Kalish said. “I felt we deserved more out of the game than the result. Overall, I was proud of our guys’ fight and performance, especially in the second half.”
The Bears’ Jack Griffin scored the only goal of the game midway through the first half to earn the victory for Missouri State (11-4-2).
SIUE held a 15-9 advantage in shots, while shots on goal were even at 4-4. GoalkeeperJohn Berner made three saves in his final game for the Cougars.
The two teams battled for possession during the game’s first twenty minutes, before Griffin scored what turned out to be the game-winner in the 24th minute of play.
From a corner kick, Missouri State had an initial header hit the crossbar after a deflection before the ball fell to Griffin, who scored from 10 yards out.
SIUE enjoyed much of the possession following the goal, however, and began to increase their offensive pressure going into the second half, crafting a number of quality opportunities.
The Cougars were reduced to ten men in the 74th minute, when Berner came out to deny a breakaway attempt by Missouri State’s James Thomas but was judged to have handled the ball outside of the penalty area.
SIUE continued pressing the Bears’ back line down the stretch, and created a number of chances in the final minutes of the match. Ben Sauerwein’s half-volley was deflected and saved by MSU goalkeeper Trevor Spangenberg, before Jason Hackett had a close-range shot blocked on a goal-mouth scramble.
“Take nothing away from Missouri State, because they are a good team,” Kalish said. “However, after they scored I thought we carried the game and had them on their heels for the rest of the match. Unfortunately for our guys, we were unable to finish the chances we created.”
The Cougars finish the season with an 8-9-2 overall record and a 3-3-0 mark in MVC play. The program says goodbye to Berner and Joe Sales, the only two seniors on the roster.
“It is never easy when your season comes to an end and you have to say goodbye to seniors that you have gone to battle with so many times,” Kalish said. “We are going to miss John and Joe tremendously. We are very proud of the men they have become and their overall contributions to SIUE and our program.”
SIUE will return the majority of its roster next season, with this year’s team including nine freshmen and nine sophomores.
“This was a young team that grew tremendously and matured as the year went on,” Kalish added. “We improved quite a bit as we gained experience and we look forward to continuing this progression as we enter our spring portion.”