ORLANDO, Fla. – No. 12 Missouri State (18-1-1) fell 2-1 in overtime to No. 8 UCF (15-2-2) here Sunday night in the second round of the NCAA Men’s Soccer Tournament.
The Knights, who scored on a golden goal from Cal Jennings in the opening minute of overtime, advanced to the next round and halted the Bears’ postseason run. It was the Bears’ only loss of the season and put a close to a historic 2019 campaign for MSU.
Just three minutes into the second-round match, Aadne Gikling Bruseth gave the Bears a quick 1-0 lead following a UCF turnover inside its box. After the Knights’ miscue, Bruseth found himself one-on-one with UCF’s goalkeeper, Yannik Oettl, and the Norwegian fired in his second goal of the season to give MSU the early advantage.
UCF responded in the 28th minute after a corner kick for the home team to draw the match even. The Knights kept possession inside the Bears’ 18-yard box on the ensuing kick and Michael Creek provided great reflexes to keep an initial shot from getting past him. Yani Sorokin followed up with the header to slip one past Creek and put UCF on the board.
Although both teams went scoreless in the second half, they provided exciting action with multiple scoring chances from each side. Dawson Lee and Jack Denton both had looks from outside the box, but had their shots sail wide of the goal. UCF launched 11 of its 18 shots in the second half, but couldn’t get one past Creek who snagged six saves to keep the match even as the game went to overtime.
In the final minute of regulation, the Bears had an opportunity to put the game away, but Oettl got just enough of a shot by MSU’s Denton to push it inches outside the post and keep the game knotted at 1-1.
The UCF defense held MSU’s dynamic scoring duo of Matthew Bentley and Josh Dolling to just a shot apiece. Bruseth and Denton each sent a pair of attempts to combine for half of the team’s eight total shots.
Creek put on an impressive display in goal against a ferocious UCF attack, finishing with a season-high eight saves.
“What an incredible team to be a part of, especially with our four seniors who have been so great for this program,” said head coach Jon Leamy. “We gave everything we had tonight, just like we have all season and came up short, but that doesn’t take away all the amazing things we accomplished this year.”
Missouri State closes the book on a remarkable 2019 season that saw the Bears register the program’s first perfect regular season with a 17-0 start and set the record for the most wins in a season (18). They won their first NCAA Tournament match on Thursday (Nov. 21) in their fourth appearance.
With Sunday’s result being the only setback of the year, the Bears strung together a 21-game unbeaten streak carried over from 2018 to break the 20-year old mark set by the 1999 team who went 17-1-3.
As Missouri Valley Conference regular-season champions, MSU became the first Valley team to go 10-0 in league play.