College Sports

SIUE men’s soccer advances to second round of NCAA tournament

Austin Ledbetter converted twice, including the game-winner, in an 11-round, penalty-kick marathon that saw Southern Illinois University Edwardsville advance past No. 13 Michigan State following a 1-1 double overtime draw in the first round of the NCAA Soccer Tournament on Thursday.

“Overall I am very happy with how we played,” SIUE head coach Mario Sanchez said. “For a first round NCAA game, the guys handled it well. Michigan State is a very good team that has some weapons. They can beat you numerous ways. To play a team like that and do well, I am very pleased.”

Keegan McHugh, Lachlan McLean, Greg Solawa, Devyn Jambga, Carl Hinkson, Ivan Gutierrez and Mathias Ebbesen also converted on kicks for the Cougars. Cougar goalkeeper Kyle Dal Santo made two saves during the shootout.

SIUE moved to 10-4-6 and extended its unbeaten streak to a remarkable 13 games (10-0-3).

The Cougars will face Butler in the second round. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. Sunday.

“We’re night-and-day different than we were (in September),” Sanchez said. “It is a game all the guys are excited about. They’re a team we have a lot of respect for. We’re looking forward to seeing them Sunday.”

The Spartans got on the board in the 40th minute with a long strike from Mike Marcantognini, who drilled a shot past Dal Santo from 25 yards away.

Michigan State carried the 1-0 lead into the break.

“We talked at half about not losing faith and continuing to trust the process,” Sanchez said. “The guys stuck to that.”

McHugh leveled the score for the Cougars with a long strike of his own in the 67th minute. The strike from roughly 30 yards out was the first of McHugh’s career.

“I can’t say enough about Keegan (McHugh) in big games this year,” Sanchez said. “He has absolutely stepped up over the last couple of weeks. If there’s a kid who deserves a big goal it’s him. It was an absolutely world-class goal.”

Michigan State outshot SIUE 19-9 for the game. Dal Santo made seven saves.

“He’s one of those kids that continues to amaze us all with his reflexes,” Sanchez said. “He makes a big save every game. You can’t go a whole game without each team having at least one big chance.”