Sophomore Michael Miller scores his first goal of the season.
WASHINGTON, DC – Michigan State men’s soccer returns to the Elite Eight for the second-straight season after a 1-0 win against 13th-seeded Georgetown Sunday in Washington, DC. MSU has now reached the Elite Eight four times in the last six seasons.
On Sunday morning, the game was moved from Shaw Field to the Hoyas’ football stadium Cooper Field after poor field conditions were declared following the GU women’s soccer game and inclement weather.
“Hats off to Georgetown both the soccer program and the athletic department. There were some tough conditions, and they adjusted and made the professional decision to move to the turf here. They handled everything with class and are a very good program,” MSU head coach Damon Rensing said. “This was just a great college soccer game. It had intensity; it had chances. All in all it was a great game.”
With the win, Michigan State have won three-straight games, improving to 13-4-4 overall. The Spartans have captured NCAA Tournament wins over UIC, fourth-seeded Louisville and 13th-seeded GU. The Hoyas end the season with a 13-5-3 record.
This is the Spartans’ eighth NCAA appearance under head coach Damon Rensing. MSU is now a 11-5-3 record in NCAA Tournament games under his guidance. The Spartans advanced to the Elite Eight in 2013, 2014 and 2017. Overall, MSU has reached the NCAA Tournament 20 times with a 29-14-5 record.
The Hoyas tested the Spartans early with redshirt-senior goalkeeper Jimmy Hague making two great saves in the first 15 minutes of action. Georgetown has six shots in the first 20 minutes of play.
In the 43rd minute, junior midfielder Giuseppe Barone looked to get the Spartans started with a shot that was blocked by the Georgetown defense. The play led to another corner kick by freshman midfielder Jack Beck that was eventually cleared out.
With less than a minute remaining in the first half, sophomore midfielder Michael Miller picked an ideal time for his first goal of the season to give Michigan State the 1-0 advantage. The sequence started with a pass near midfield from junior defender Michael Pimlott. Miller took the ball and deposited the long-distance shot to the lower right corner.
“Sometimes in these games you need a player to step up. Obviously, Michael Miller made a huge play on a great goal. This was just a total team effort, and that has been the story for us so far. We are getting goals from midfielders, forwards and defenders. Jimmy Hague has been fantastic. To go to the Elite Eight back-to-back years and four times in the last six years is awesome,” Rensing said.
Michigan State has now scored in the first half in three-straight games. Despite being out-shot 7-3 in the first half, the Spartans held on to the 1-0 lead after 45 minutes of play.
The Hoyas came out strong in the second half. In the 56th minute, Hague made a terrific save on a shot by Ethan Lochner. Derek Dodson’s header on the second shot sailed over the goal.
In the 62nd minute, senior forward DeJuan Jones had his eye on another MSU goal, but GU goalkeeper Giannis Nikopolidis came off his line to make the stop.
In the 86th minute, sophomore defender Patrick Nielsen came to the rescue as a Dodson shot was not allowed to cross the line, preventing the equalizer. The Hoyas did not go down without a fight with a flurry of shots in the final 30 seconds of action.
The Spartans become the third Big Ten team to reach the Elite Eight along with 11th-seeded Maryland and second-seeded Indiana. Michigan State will face the winner of the game between 12th-seeded Virginia Tech and James Madison.