EAST LANSING, Mich. – Neither snow nor the Flames of UIC could slow down No. 22-ranked Michigan State men’s soccer, as the Spartans used a pair of first-half goals from a pair of senior forwards for a 2-0 victory for MSU in the first round of the NCAA Tournament Thursday night at a snowy DeMartin Stadium.
MSU improved to 11-4-4 this season and advances to take on No. 4-seeded Louisville on Sunday, Nov. 18 in Louisville, Kentucky at 5 p.m. UIC ends its season with a 12-6-2 record. The Spartans now hold a 16-3-4 record against the Flames, including 10-1-1 at home.
Michigan State is making its its third appearance in the NCAA Tournament in the last four years and eighth under head coach Damon Rensing. Overall, the Spartans have been in the NCAA Tournament 20 times, now with a 27-15-5 mark.
Thursday night the Spartans scored in the sixth minute with a goal by senior forward Ryan Sierakowski and the 19th minute from fellow senior forward Hunter Barone. Another Spartan senior forward, DeJuan Jones assisted on both goals, with Barone joining Jones for the assist on Sierakowski’s goal.
Senior goalkeeper Jimmy Hague registered his eighth shutout of the season and his 26th career clean sheet, maintaining the No. 2 spot on the MSU career shutout list. Thursday was also Hague’s 37th career win, as he takes over sole possession of the No. 2 position on the Spartans’ wins list.
Sierakowski netted his team-leading sixth goal of the season and takes over the team points lead now with 16, as he is trying to become the first Spartan player to lead the team in points in four-straight seasons. He netted his 31st goal of his career, taking sole possession of the No. 8 spot on MSU’s career goals list. Jones’ two assists give him five on the season and move him up to tie for second on the team with 15 points, matching junior midfielder Giuseppe Barone.
The Spartans got on the board early with Sierakowski finding the back of the net in the sixth minute with a chip over UIC keeper Sawyer Jackman. Hunter Barone and Jones earned the assists, with Jones feeding Barone, who slid a back-heel pass to Sierakowski for the goal.
MSU added to its lead with a goal in the 19th minute, with Jones dribbling the ball deep into the box, then slipping a pass through to Hunter Barone, who slotted it home past Jackman, for the 2-0 Spartan advantage.
UIC tried to cut into the deficit in the 40th minute, but Hague made the save on a shot by Max Todd, keeping the score 2-0, which it remained into halftime.
Both teams had several scoring opportunites and threats in the second half, but Hague and Jackman were up to the respective tasks, thwarting the threats, and keeping the score 2-0.
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