Spartan Soccer Upsets Fourth-Seeded Louisville to Reach Sweet 16

Spartan Soccer (photo:  msu sid)
Spartan Soccer (photo: msu sid)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - An overtime goal by senior defender John Freitag in the 93rd minute sends the Michigan State men's soccer team to the Sweet 16 for the second time in as many seasons with a 2-1 win over fourth-seeded Louisville on Sunday in Louisville, Kentucky.

The Spartans captured their first overtime win of the season, improving to 1-3-4 in extra time. With the win, Michigan State improves to 12-4-4 overall, earning its second win over a top-10 ranked opponent this season. Louisville ends the season with a 11-5-3 record.

"I give our guys a ton of credit. After the goal against us we came out determined and really were the aggressors. For our guys to handle that kind of adversity in the game and get re-focused, I am very, very proud of them. I think that they represented Michigan State and the Big Ten very well," MSU head coach Damon Rensing said.

This is the Spartans' eighth NCAA appearance under head coach Damon Rensing. MSU is now a 10-5-3 record in NCAA Tournament games under his guidance. The Spartans advanced to the Elite Eight in 2013, 2014 and 2017. Overall, MSU has reached the NCAA Tournament 20 times with a 28-14-5 record.

The Spartans got on the board early with a goal in the 16th minute. Freshman midfielder Jack Beck drilled a long-distance goal off the pass from senior forward Ryan Sierakowski for his second goal of the season. MSU was efficient in the first half scoring on one of only two shots in the half.

The half ended with the Spartans holding on to the 1-0 lead as neither team got much momentum going in the first 45 minutes.

The Cardinals were able to find the equalizer in the 77th minute after a scrum in front of the goal. Haji Abdikadir found the back of the net off assists by Ziyad Fekri and Lamine Conte for his second goal of the season. The goal was reviewed and upheld by the officials.

MSU senior goalkeeper Jimmy Hague was brilliant after the goal with three saves, including one in the 89th minute to send the game into overtime.

In the 93rd minute, a foul on Louisville resulted in a free kick for the Spartans, that junior midfielder Giuseppe Barone took from just outside the 18-yard box on the left wing. Barone put the ball near the 8-yard box, and after a deflection in front of the net, the ball bounced to Freitag, who slotted it home inside the left post from about 12-yards out, sparking the Spartans' celebration.

"One behalf of MSU soccer, we'd really like to thank the MSU basketball team. We heard that Coach Izzo talked about it in the press conference, and they said the final at the game. That is what Spartan family is all about. We really appreciate at the support we get from everyone," Rensing said.

The Spartans will take on 13th-seeded Georgetown on Sunday, Nov. 25 in Washington D.C.

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