Koka’s late brace lifts Bears into third round


WILMINGTON, Nc. — Missouri State Men’s Soccer sophomore forward Jon Koka took on the role of hero for the Bears with a pair of last minute goals to top Maryland in the NCAA Tournament second round, 2-1.

After no goals in the first 83 minutes of the match, the Terrapins drew first blood on the counter with a header finish from Eric Matzelevich to put Maryland on top 1-0.

“You could just tell the guys were pissed off,” Missouri State Head Coach Jon Leamy said.

Rather than collapsing, though, the Bears put that anger to work.

Just two and a half minutes later, some great one-touch passing set up Koka behind the defense to bury the ball back corner and equalize the game at 1-1 with four and a half minutes left.

Missouri State wouldn’t settle with that, though, and kept pushing for the final minutes.

“Even after the first one, I heard a couple of guys go, ‘We’re going to end it now. We’re going to end it now and there’s not going to be overtime,'” Leamy said. “And it was fantastic to see them do it.”

With just 30 seconds left on the clock, Koka slipped behind the defense once more on a longball over the top.

Again the sophomore from Bilbao, Spain picked out the back corner and again he found it.

This time, however, to seal the comeback win for the Bears and send them to the third round of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history.

“It’s unbelievable,” Koka said. “Being able to help the team that way. It’s anything I could dream of. As soon as I saw myself in front of the goal and the goalie was in front of me it was, ‘I’m scoring this goal.’ I’m not missing this. There’s no way I’m missing it.”

Missouri State will now travel a couple hours inland to Cary, North Carolina for the next round of the tournament where the Bears will meet seventh-seeded Washington on Thursday, May 6th.

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