Spartans Bounced From NCAA Tourney

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The Michigan State men's soccer season came to an abrupt end Tuesday (Nov. 25) afternoon. After 110 minutes of scoreless play, Illinois-Chicago advanced to the third round of the NCAA Championship, 3-2, on penalty kicks after the teams tied 0-0 in regulation and two overtime sessions. The Spartans, who won both the Big Ten regular-season and tournament championships, ended the year with a 13-5-2 record.

"It's disappointing, it really is," said MSU head coach Joe Baum, who coached his last game as head coach for the Spartans on Tuesday. "But, I'm really proud of our effort. I thought we gave 110% effort and once again, we didn't allow a goal. When you get into a shootout, it's almost like rolling the dice."

The game began with the Flames applying a majority of the offensive pressure but MSU goalkeeper Avery Steinlage kept the game scoreless with two magnificent saves in the 21st minute. He first stopped UIC's Kevin Stoll and then stoned a rebound attempt by Baggio Husidic from just five yards out.

Domenic Barone had the Spartans' best chance of the first half in the 35th minute when a long pass forced him to collide with UIC goalkeeper Jovan Bubonja just outside the six-yard box. The collision forced Barone to play the ball off his head and the ball then bounced just wide.

The Spartans controlled a majority of the chances in the second half, outshooting UIC, 4-3, but in the end neither team was able to find the back of the net.

The first overtime saw MSU senior Doug DeMartin get the first quality scoring opportunity as he turned and fired from 15 yards out into the hands of Bubonja. Minutes later, Zac Scaffidi had what looked to be the game-winner as he took a pass inside the penalty area and sent the ball toward the top of the net that Bubonja just tapped over the crossbar.

While the first overtime session belonged to the Spartan offense, Steinlage stepped up for MSU in the second extra session with two saves.

"Avery definitely made a couple big saves," said Baum.

The final chance of regulation came courtesy of Jeff Ricondo in what initially looked like a harmless play. Ricondo's sent a high-arching ball from the right side toward the net, that carried and eventually bounced off the crossbar with just one second remaining on the clock.

After two rounds of penalty kicks, UIC led 2-1 and then senior Ben Pirmann knotted it up to start the third round. Steinlage then made diving save to his left to keep it tied at two. The Spartans then missed their final two shots, while UIC converted on one to give them the 4-3 PK win.

"I thought both teams played really well," Baum said. "I thought it was quality soccer game. UIC is a fine team and we knew that coming in. I thought we played well but somebody had to lose."

Baum ends his MSU career has head coach with an all-time record of 320-227-54. The Spartans' 13 wins this season tied a program high.

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