Nov. 14, 2008
MADISON, Wis. -
Big Ten Player of the Year Doug DeMartin converted on a penalty kick five minutes and 20 seconds into the second half and top-seeded Michigan State held on the rest of the way to eliminate Northwestern, the No. 4 seed, from the 2008 Big Ten Men's Soccer Tournament on Friday.
The Spartans (12-5-1) advance to Sunday's championship game against the winner of the second semifinal contest between Michigan and Indiana.
The Wildcats (13-4-2) now await the release of the NCAA tournament field which is set to be announced at 5 p.m. Central time Monday.
"When you play in tournament play, it comes down to making plays," Northwestern head coach Tim Lenahan said. "They made a play; they played well. It was a pretty evenly matched game. Both teams had good chances. They got the penalty kick and converted it. We threw everything we had at them, but we weren't able to get the equalizer."
Both teams had scoring chances in the opening half, though neither squad was able to convert. Michigan State finished with a slim 6-5 advantage in shots.
The difference in the match came early in the second half when Ben Pirmann made a run into the box and drew a foul. DeMartin, the Big Ten leader in goals scored, took the ensuing penalty kick and was able to find the lower right corner to put the Spartans ahead.
Similar to Thursday's comeback win over Penn State, the Wildcats refused to go away as it put pressure on the Spartans the remainder of the contest.
Northwestern earned a great chance when its attack drew a foul just outside the top of the box with a little over seven minutes remaining. Mark Blades took the free kick, but it sailed just over the top of the crossbar.
Just over a minute later, the Wildcats just missed on another chance to tie the game. Off a restart, Michigan State played the ball back to keeper Avery Steinlage. Oliver Kupe pressured Steinlage into a kick that went right to Carl Pett at the midfield with Steinlage out of the cage. Pett's long shot was on goal, but Josh Rogers made a diving header to prevent the potential game-tying goal from going in.
Michigan State was able to hold on the rest of the way to move on. Northwestern finished with a 13-12 edge in shots, while the Spartans had seven corner kicks to two for the Wildcats.
"We'll recover a little bit," Blades said. "We've got a couple of days to sit back and reflect and then go forward. We've still got more games to play. We've got the NCAA Tournament and we plan to go far there so the season's definitely not over."