SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Michigan State men’s soccer saw its NCAA College Cup run come to an end in the national semifinals with a 5-1 loss to Akron on Friday at Harder Stadium in Santa Barbara, California.
The Spartans reached the semifinals for the first time since winning back-to-back titles in 1967 and 1968. Michigan State’s run included a pair of home wins against UIC and James Madison along with upsets over No. 4 Louisville and No. 13 Georgetown.
With the loss, Michigan State ends the season with a 14-5-4 record, tying the record for single-season wins. Akron moves on to the championship game and improves to 15-6-2. The Zips will play the winner of the game between Maryland and Indiana.
“First off, I want to congratulate Akron. Jared (Embick) does a great job, and we wish them the best on Sunday. We want to thank UC Santa Barbara and the NCAA for putting on a great event. They made out players feel like a first-class program,” MSU head coach Damon Rensing said. “As far as the team, I told them soccer can be the highest of highs like when we beat James Madison at home, and it can be cruel. It was a tough game tonight. I am not sure if the score was really indicative of the play, but Akron was lethal.”
The Zips struck first in the 16th minute after a flurry of shots. David Egbo scored his 13th goal of the season after a Morgan Hackworth shot hit off the cross bar and Egbo deposited the rebound in the back of the net.
After the goal, Michigan State played a little stronger on the offensive end. In the 22nd minute, senior forward Hunter Barone took a long pass from junior midfielder Giuseppe Barone and went one-on-one with Akron goalkeeper Ben Lundt, who made an incredible save to keep the Zip lead.
In the 25th minute, Michigan State came strong with its own flurry of activity. A shot by senior forward DeJuan Jones shot was stopped by Lundt, while fellow senior forward Ryan Sierakowski’s blast was cleared from the line by Abdi Mohamed.
The Zips doubled their lead to 2-0 in the 32nd minute with a goal of a corner kick. Colin Biros took the corner kick that started the second goal and from three yards Carlo Ritaccio used his head to find the back of the net.
Akron added a pair of goals early in the second half to take a 4-1 advantage.
In the 78th minute, redshirt-sophomore Michael Miller launched a long-distance shot that was blocked by a Zip defender to keep MSU off the board. Just one minute later, Michigan State finally broke through with redshirt-sophomore Patrick Nielsen’s third goal of the season. Freshman defender Jack Beck’s corner kick found Nielsen’s head to trim the Akron lead to 4-1.
Akron added one more late goal to take the 5-1 advantage.
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