[NCAA DIVISION I MEN]Saint Louis opened the 2009 NCAA Tournament with a 2-1 victory over Missouri State Thursday night at Hermann Stadium. Senior James Diceand sophomore Mike Roach tallied for the Billikens, who now advance to face No. 9 seed Tulsa on Sunday at 2 p.m.
The SLU defense fought off several Missouri State chances in the early going before the Billikens cracked the scoreboard at the 9:34 mark. On a restart from roughly 45 yards, senior defender Tim Ream sent a ball in that Michael Robson got a head on. The ball bounced up to Dice, who managed to deflect it past MSU keeper Alex Riggs to put the Billikens up 1-0.
In the 17th minute, SLU went on top 2-0 when Roach connected on a penalty kick. Stephen Bortolon earned the PK by working on the right side. After entering the box, Bortolon was brought down by a Missouri State defender. Roach then buried the ball into the back netting for his 11th tally of the season.
The two squads went into halftime with the Billikens ahead 2-0 despite Missouri State holding a 12-3 advantage in shots. Senior keeper Ross Kaufman was sharp in making seven saves in the opening half.
Missouri State struck first in the second session, as Heath Melugin got the Bears on the board with a goal in the 50th minute. Jordan Hoffman fed Melugin the ball from the right side, and Melugin fired a rocket that deflected off the bottom of the crossbar and over the goal line to cut MSU's deficit in half at 2-1.
In the 67th minute, Dice nearly tallied the third Billiken goal, but his header bounced off the turf and just over the MSU crossbar. The Bears had two strong chances in the 71st minute but pushed the first shot aside, and Kaufman came up with a sparkling save, his eighth of the evening, to keep the Billikens on top. In the waning moments, the Bears had two more scoring chances misfire, and the Billikens held on for the victory.
The Billikens improve to 15-6, while the Bears end their season with a 12-5-2 mark.