SPRINGFIELD, Mo–Missouri State soccer has never hosted an NCAA Tournament game – and the school itself hasn’t had one since the 1980’s.
And despite Mother Nature’s best shot at cancelling this one, that streak ended Thursday night. Lightning pushed kickoff back 30 minutes, but eventually only rain remained and we finally got underway.
But the first half came with very few chances. First shot on goal comes 30 minutes in. Jack Denton pulling up from distance. But it’s pushed aside by Denver’s Will Palmquist.
Final minute of the half, still scoreless. Pioneers with a chance behind Preston Judd’s speed. But Kyle Hiebert with a stellar slide to cut the breakaway short.
We end the first half nil-nil.
Second half comes with more opportunity. Aadne Bruseth with a header chance at an open goal, but it goes over the bar.
Missouri state wishing they had that back.
But Matt Bentley says no worries boys. I’ve got this. Team leading scoring coming up huge again as he buries the 72nd minute corner and it’s 1-nil Missouri State.
Trying to burn the clock. Just one minute left, Bears called for a handball on the edge of the box.
Pioneers step up to take, go for the right corner – but the Bear wall is there to head it away!
And Missouri State is headed to the second round for the first time ever after a 1-nil win over Denver.
Here’s your hero of the day – and the season – Matt Bentley after the game.
“We knew as a team we had to get back to what we do well. That’s keeping the ball, passing, moving, switching lanes. And we did that. We kept possession well. We didn’t force it. We bided our time. We had a lot of half chances. In the second half we had a flurry of corners. And lucky enough for me, it came off and I scored. Now we’re going through to the next round where felt we should have been in the first place. We proved why we’re there. Hopefully now we take that momentum in, it’s tournament football so anything can happen,” said Bentley.