After a mostly deadlocked game, it was a Tim Kreutz header from 10 yards out with 6:29 left in the second overtime that sealed a 1-0 win for the No. 14 MSU men’s soccer team against No. 17 Louisville in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday afternoon.
The redshirt junior forward’s goal was set up from a free kick by senior defender Kevin Cope, who sent it into the box where junior forward Adam Montague knocked it to Kreutz who finished.
After beating Louisville (11-5-4 overall), MSU (13-5-3) now will return to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2010, where they face Georgetown (14-4-2) — the defending national runner-up — on Dec. 1 in Washington D.C.
“We knew we were good on set pieces, I just had a good feeling about that one,” Kreutz said. “I don’t know if I could be more open. I just directed it towards (the) goal and it went in.”
Both teams faced difficult playing conditions, with an icy pitch causing players to slip often throughout the game. A temperature of 22 degrees and winds of more than 10 miles per hour furthered difficulties.
The Spartans had a couple good scoring opportunities throughout the game.
In the 56th minute, sophomore midfielder Jay Chapman sent a laser from at least 30 yards out, but it sailed just high of the net.
Midway through the second half, it looked like MSU was going to score when senior defender Wesley Curtis found junior midfielder Kyle Rutz, but Rutz’s shot was off balance and didn’t have enough speed to get it past Louisville’s diving goalkeeper Joachim Ball.
Just a few minutes later, MSU found the back of the net, but Rutz was called for offsides and the goal did not count. It was one of three offsides calls against the Spartans.
The match went back and forth in overtime before Kreutz’s ninth goal of the season ended it.
“We were just trying to throw at everything at the net, so we loaded it up and drove the ball in and were fortunate (Tim Kreutz) was in the right spot,” Cope said. “Sometimes we need a little luck on our side and that’s what we got on that play and we’ll take it. At this point it’s survive and advance and that’s what we did.”
MSU will head into the Sweet 16 still battling some injuries. Junior defender Ryan Keener had to leave the game because of a hamstring injury after playing only 46 minutes. In the first half, he made a great play to potentially save a goal as he deflected the ball out of bounds, but pulled up lame and nursing his leg.
He did continue playing until leaving for good in the second half, however. The Spartans now will face Georgetown, who is 17th in the nation in scoring offense with 1.89 goals per game. They also are second in the nation in goals against average with .46.
“I thought if we could get through today we could continue to build some momentum,” head coach Damon Rensing said. “One of the things that we talked about in the pre game today was probably three, four years ago when I took over, we would tell the guys that you come to Michigan State to play in these games. Now the quote is ‘You come to Michigan State to win these games.’
“We were able to win this one today and we’ll have the confidence that we go into Georgetown and win, but we know it’ll have our best game of the year for sure.”
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