EDWRADSVILLE, Ill. – No. 22 Michigan State edged SIUE men's soccer 1-0 Friday at Korte Stadium in the season opener for both teams.
"We have a good team," SIUE Head Coach Mario Sanchez said. "Michigan State is going to be a top-10 team. They have some really good pieces. So, I know that we're capable of playing with anyone."
The game was a rematch of last season's NCAA first round contest, which resulted with the Cougars advancing to the second round on penalty kicks after a 1-1 tie.
In a tight defensive game which featured only 12 combined shots from the two teams, the Spartans were able to gain the advantage in the 14th minute.
Giuseppe Barone picked off a ball just 10 yards from the Cougar goal and hit a shot past SIUE goalkeeper Kyle Dal Santo for the 1-0 Michigan State lead.
"The one chance we gave them they capitalized on it," Sanchez said.
The Cougars rebounded for five shots in the second half, outshooting the Spartans 5-3. SIUE couldn't convert despite several chances.
"We are really happy with how our guys played in the second half," Sanchez said. "Once the second half started it was like a whole different team."
Senior Joel Duncan may have had the best chance of the night. Duncan unloaded a blast from just outside the 18-yard box in the 75th minute. The shot hit the upper left corner of the goal before ricocheting out of play.
The Cougars took seven corner kicks, including six in the second half, accounting for several opportunities.
"Re-starts are a huge part of the game," Sanchez said. "Against Northwestern I thought we'd get one. I thought we'd get one tonight. We're close. It will happen."
Dal Santo finished with just a single save. Michigan State goalkeeper Jimmy Hague recorded two saves to earn the shutout.
"This is what it's all about," Sanchez added. "Players want to play in these games. We expect to compete and get results. We were close to getting a result tonight.
We recover tomorrow and get ready for Sunday night," Sanchez continued. "It should be a great game. For this area and for SIUE, to have an ACC team here in Syracuse that for the last four or five years has been top-10 is awesome."