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Men's soccer advances to Elite Eight after defeating Washington in penalty kicks

November 30, 2014
<p>Senior midfielder Fatai Alashe reacts to the team's advancement after scoring the winning penalty kick on Nov. 30, 2014, at DeMartin Stadium at Old College Field. The Spartans tied the Huskies, 2-2, with penalty kicks, 4-3. Aerika Williams/The State News </p>

Senior midfielder Fatai Alashe reacts to the team's advancement after scoring the winning penalty kick on Nov. 30, 2014, at DeMartin Stadium at Old College Field. The Spartans tied the Huskies, 2-2, with penalty kicks, 4-3. Aerika Williams/The State News

The men’s soccer team (12-4-6 overall , 4-2-2 Big Ten ) is headed to the Elite Eight for the second consecutive year after tying with the Washington Huskies (12-5-3 overall , 5-4-1 PAC-12 ) 2-2 , advancing with a 4-3 advantage in penalty kicks.

“First off I want to say congratulations to the University of Washington. They’re a very classy program, obviously a very good soccer team,” said head coach Damon Rensing said. “Our guys were special today.”

The first half of this Sweet Sixteen matchup was much like the majority of Spartans games this season — a mostly defensive battle in which neither team could score in the first 45.

MSU looked to be in control early in the first half. Junior midfielder Jay Chapman had an opportunity, but couldn’t get the shot off after sneaking behind the Washington defense in the opening minute of the game.

The Spartans finished the first half with six shots and two corner kicks , compared to eight shots and one corner kick by Washington. After the Spartans came out of the gate strong, the Huskies looked the better team offensively later in the first half.

Washington redshirt senior goalkeeper Spencer Richey was forced to make four first half saves , compared to just two by MSU junior goalkeeper Zach Bennett .

The second half was a different story, the Huskies took the 1-0 lead at the 65:12 mark on a goal by junior midfielder James Moberg with an assist from senior forward Darwin Jones .

Washington wasn’t done either, the Huskies took a 2-0 lead on a goal by sophomore midfielder and forward Steven Wright with an assist coming from redshirt sophomore defender Justin Schmidt at the 72:55 mark .

MSU scored a few minutes later to make things interesting scoring on an own goal by the Huskies defense, making it 2-1 at the 75:43 mark .

“Luckily we were fortunate enough to get that first one, and that really just gave (us life),” Bennett said. “I gotta give it up to the guys. (That) was the guttiest performance I’ve ever been a part of.”

As time was winding down in the game and on the Spartans season, MSU equalized making it 2-2 at the 87:56 mark on a goal by redshirt senior midfielder and forward Tim Kreutz with an assist from senior forward Adam Montague . The late goal by the Spartans sent the game into extra time.

“We had no doubt we were going to win that game, even when we were down 2-0. Thats a dangerous lead for any team, and we’ve had that lead before and given it up,” Kreutz said. “We’ve been in those games and we knew that it was possible.”

After neither team could score in extra time the game came down to penalty kicks. After the two teams were tied through four rounds of PKs, MSU senior midfielder Fatai Alashe converted giving MSU the 4-3 advantage . That is where it would stay as Huskies senior forward Darwin Jones’ PK attempt hit the cross bar and missed.

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