CHICAGO – Missouri State men’s soccer (17-0-1) played to a 1-1 draw Sunday in the Missouri Valley Conference championship game against host Loyola before falling in penalty kicks to finish as tournament runners-up.
Loyola (11-4-4) outscored the Bears, 5-4, in penalty kicks to earn the MVC’s automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament, but MSU’s unblemished season record remained intact.
No. 9-ranked Missouri State will learn its NCAA Tournament opponent during Monday’s 12 p.m. (Central) NCAA selection show. The field of 48 will be announced at that time on NCAA.com, and fans can join coach Jon Leamy and the Bears in the PRIME Overtime Club at JQH Arena for the selection show with doors opening at 11:15 a.m. Snacks and beverages will be available.
In Sunday’s Valley finals, the Bears were first on the scoreboard with a Matthew Bentley goal in the 56th minute, but Loyola extended the championship match with a goal in the final minute of regulation to send the teams to overtime.
After both squads failed to score in the two overtime periods, the MVC title game moved on to penalty kicks for the first time since 2010 as the Ramblers claimed the championship with a 5-4 advantage. Both teams attempted seven penalty-kick in the tie-breaker.
With the match officially going down as a tie for MSU, Missouri State extended its unbeaten streak to 20 straight games which tied the 1999 team for the longest unbeaten stretch in program history. The Bears remain the only unbeaten team in all of Division I.
Bentley’s goal was 12th in the last 10 matches. He gave the Bears the early lead on a strike from just inside the Loyola box, collecting a pass from Connor Langan to score the Bears’ lone goal.
Josh Dolling led the MSU attack with four shots, barely missing on a header towards goal in the 29th minute. The Bears were outshot for the just fourth time this season as the Ramblers held the 13-12 advantage.
Michael Creek had four saves in the match, including a pair of impressive grabs to keep Loyola off the board in the first half