College Men: Michigan State victory gives Big Ten three teams in final four

For the first time in 50 years, Michigan State is headed to the Men's College Cup.

It isn't for a lack of trying that the Spartans haven't returned to the final since winning championships in 1967 and 1968 (co-champions both years).

Michigan State reached the quarterfinals in 2013, 2014 and 2017 but lost each time. It advanced to this year's Men's College Cup in Santa Barbara with a 2-1 win over James Madison.

The victory sends three Big Ten teams to the final four for the first time. Indiana and Maryland will meet in one semifinal, while Michigan State will face Akron in the other.

Senior Ryan Sierakowski, the Spartans' leading scorer in each of his four seasons, scored two second-half goals to lead Michigan State to the comeback victory.

German star Niclas Mohr had put the Dukes ahead in the 32nd minute. Five minutes later, the match was briefly stopped when a fan threw a snowball near Mohr's feet.

"We knew that James Madison was lethal on the counter and they countered very well," said Spartans coach Damon Rensing. "They got one goal there, and I thought our guys showed great resilience. We talked about being patient, we had 45 minutes to score. We thought if we got the one the second will come, and we had two great plays."

The win improved MSU's record to 14-4-4, tying its single-season record for wins, but it wasn't certain of making the postseason after going winless in its last four games of the regulation. The win over JMU followed victories over Horizon League champion UIC, No. 4 seed Louisville and No. 13 Georgetown.

"I mean, just getting into the tournament wasn't a lock," said Sierakowski, "so that was nervy time for us and once we saw our name come up and hosting UIC, we knew that could've been potentially our last game at DeMartin, so we wanted to leave it all on the field and that win was special. Then to go on the road, we did against Louisville and Georgetown, we definitely didn't anticipate hosting again and as soon as we knew we were going to host James Madison we just… I don't know. It was unbelievable."

Dec. 1 in East Lansing, Mich.
Michigan State 2 James Madison 1. Goals: Sierakowski (Mutatu, Cort) 72; Sierakowski (Nielsen, Corrigan) 81; Mohr (Jeffris) 32.
Michigan State -- Hague, Nielsen, Freitag, Corrigan, Wetungu, Beck, Pimlott, G.Barone, Jones, H.Barone, Sierakowski. Subs: Mutatu, Cort, Miller.
James Madison -- Bush, McKenna, Mohr, Judge, Thorsteinsson, Shores, Metzler, Franz, Casero, Jeffris, Ward-Baptiste. Subs: Estermann, Nikkessen, Koskinen, Burton.
Att.: 1,758.
Next story loading loading..

Discover Our Publications