College Sports

Cougars win first MVC soccer championship

SIUE men's soccer won its first-ever Missouri Valley Conference regular season title Saturday defeating Loyola 1-0 in overtime at Korte Stadium.

The win is the eighth consecutive for the Cougars who will take the No. 1 seed into next week's MVC Tournament hosted by SIUE. The Cougars improved to 12-3-1 overall and 5-1 in the MVC. Loyola dropped to 9-4-4 and 2-1-3 in the MVC.

Devyn Jambga netted the game-winning goal with six minutes to play in the first overtime period. Jabari Danzy assisted after picking up the ball at midfield following a clearance from Jacob Wieser. The goal was the sixth of the season for the sophomore, who leads the team in goals scored.

"We usually don't play Devyn and Jabari at the same time," SIUE Head Coach Mario Sanchez said. "I said to myself 'we talk about being aggressive and I as a coach have to live up to that' so I put them both on and good things happen."

After being outshot 3-2 over the first 45 minutes, the Cougars unleashed 11 second-half shots, but failed to find the back of the net in regulation.

"I'm really proud of the guys," Sanchez said. "We started a little slow and nervous and we told them to just go pursue it, relax, and enjoy it. The second half, they were fantastic. I thought we dominated the second half."

The Ramblers' best opportunity came with just over four minutes to play in regulation time when they were awarded a penalty kick. SIUE goalkeeper Kyle Dal Santo denied Loyola's Kyle Thomson with a diving save to his left to keep the game scoreless.

"You need big plays in big games, and Kyle Dal Santo stepped up big," Sanchez said.

Nearly 900 fans also got to see SIUE honor its six graduating seniors. Justin Bilyeu, Garet Christianson, Danzy, Brett Lane, Paul Scheipeter, and Wieser each were recognized prior to the game.

"I came here and kids come here because of the history of this program, the support from the community and the administration," Sanchez said. "We're here to build something special. We're here to be a top team in the Missouri Valley and a top team in the country."

SIUE will play its first game in the tournament Friday at 6 p.m. The Cougars will face with No. 4 seed Missouri State or No. 5 Loyola.

"It's going to be great to play in front of our crowd and get an opportunity to play in the NCAA tournament," Sanchez added. "We have to take it one step at a time and we have the same opportunity as everyone else going into the tournament."

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