Michigan St. heads to first national quarterfinals since 1968 on 1-0 shutout
WASHINGTON -- Earning its program record-tying 13th shutout of the season, 11th-seeded Michigan State (14-5-3) outlasted sixth-seeded Georgetown (14-5-2) 1-0 on Sunday afternoon. It is the first time the Spartans have advanced the NCAA quarterfinals since 1968, when they earned a share of the NCAA championship title.
A goal in the 28th minute from Adam Montague off a ball played in by Jay Chapman gave the Spartan defense all it needed to hold off the Georgetown attack and punch its ticket to the next round.
“It was a great team effort and a huge win for our program,” MSU head coach Damon Rensing said. “When you think about it, for us to go in and play a very good Georgetown team who is the sixth seed, [Ryan] Keener didn’t play so we had to adjust our lineup, Adam Montague obviously scored the game-winning goal and is getting strong but still only played about 15 minutes. So for us to go on the road without a starting centerback and an All-Big Ten forward coming back to strength and be able to get that result was awesome. It’s a testament to the character of these guys and this team. It’s a huge win."
The Hoyas imposed pressure from the kickoff, forcing the Spartans to spread out defensively. After Georgetown put several players forward at the beginning of the contest, one of the Hoyas’ strikers sent a dangerous shot on target that Zach Bennett fell on top of to keep out of the goal.
Able to gain possession 12 minutes into the game, the Spartans began to put numbers forward and create opportunities in the box. Though MSU earned a free kick from 20 yards out, the Georgetown wall of defenders kept any chance for the Spartans out of the Hoyas’ territory.
Georgetown continued its offensive attack with solid ball movement, but the Spartan defense stepped up to thwart an onslaught of dangerous opportunities for the Hoyas.
In the 28th minute, the Spartans were able to put numbers forward with Jay Chapman sending a perfect cross to Adam Montague who left-footed a target to the upper left-hand side of the net less than a minute after entering the game. Montague’s fifth goal of the season gave the Spartans a 1-0 lead, marking the first time the Hoyas have trailed at home all season.
“[Ryan] Thelen got forward and played a great ball into Adam, who played it into Jay who ran off on a good one,” Rensing said. “Jay tried to cut it back and couldn’t get a shot off and he laid it to Adam who took it very well, obviously, and had a great strike to the upper corner. It was a great interchange and a great goal.”
The Spartan defense averted dangerous attacks from the Hoyas as Georgetown maintained ball possession in the MSU box trying to force the equalizer in the second half. However, Michigan State settled in to create chances of its own off of restarts. Though they were unable to add to the lead, the Spartans worked down the clock throughout the second half.
With under 15 minutes left in the game, the Hoyas put numbers forward to try to obtain the tie and created chances in the MSU box. As the Spartans again stepped up to clear out the Georgetown attack, Tim Kreutz was able to get a foot on the ball and drive down the field to took a strong kick on the ball, but sent it just wide of the net. Despite their strong numbers, the Hoyas were unable to tie the game and lost at home for the third time in the past two seasons.
Stepping up in the net, Zach Bennett tallied seven saves on the day to improve his career total to 119, the fifth-best in MSU history. He also earned his 16th career shutout, also placing him at No. 5 in the Spartan record books.
MSU will await its next opponent as the team will play the winner of the Notre Dame and Wake Forest game to be played on Sunday evening at 7 p.m. The date and time of the Spartans next game will be determined following the conclusion of that contest.