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Heim Leads Cougars in Shutout of No. 7 Michigan State

Noah Heim
Noah Heim

EAST LANSING, Mich. – SIUE men's soccer battled No. 7 Michigan State to a scoreless draw Friday afternoon in the 2019 season opener for both teams.

The game also was the first regular season game for SIUE Head Coach Cale Wassermann, who spent four previous seasons as an assistant at Michigan State.

"Making my coaching debut for SIUE was a special feeling," Wassermann said. "The program has so much history and recently I have been able to connect with a lot of alums and really start to feel fully ingrained with everyone. I am so proud to be a part of it.

"Coming back to MSU was bittersweet," he continued. "I have such great memories and special relationships with so many people here. To have to compete against them on my first game was a little strange, but at the end of the day I have nothing but respect for the school, those players and the staff."

The Spartans held a 16-3 advantage in shots, including outshooting SIUE 7-0 in the first half.

Wassermann cited players off the bench and specifically Andres Delascio and Steven Bibas as key to the Cougars' effort.

"There was a time in the first half where Michigan State dictated the game a little," he said. "Those guys off the bench gave us a little boost; a little more confidence on the ball. We didn't have to defend as much because we were on the ball more."

Junior goalkeeper Noah Heim stymied the Spartans' effort making eight saves, one shy of his single-game career high, to earn his seventh career shutout. Heim came up particularly big in the second overtime period, stopping a penalty kick from Michigan State's Farai Mutatu. With just over two minutes remaining in the period, Heim made a diving save on a low shot to his right.

"He's got a lot of experience and the other goalkeepers push him to be better," Wassermann said. "He was calm and he came up big in a big moment."

The Cougars' head coach also praised the team for staying in the moment.

"All of our guys kept their cool," he said. "Even after the ball is saved, you have to be able to refocus and finish the game. I credit them for being locked in mentally."

The Cougars continue their season-opening trip with a Monday game at Michigan.

"We'll focus on recovery right away," Wassermann said." Michigan is a dynamic team and that is a tough place to play."

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