2013 Season Opener - Ferris State
Michigan State opened the 2013 season with a 4-0 victory over Ferris State. The Spartans controlled possession throughout the match and created numerous scoring opportunities. Goal scorers included Max Washko (2), Ron Dewberry and Josh Wissner. Michigan State will travel to Indiana on Sunday, September 8th to take on Valparaiso University.
2012 NIRSA NCCS NATIONAL CHAMPIONS!!
The road for the team really started at the Regional Tournament when we defeated Cincinnati 1-0 in group play to advance to the Regional Semi-Finals. That goal was scored by the undisputed leader of the team, Senior Matt Kaminski. Though we were unable to advance to the finals after losing a penalty kick shootout against Illinois, we had already secured our bid to return to the NIRSA National Tournament.
Last week Tuesday we departed in minivans for Memphis, TN - the site of this year's National Tournament. After arriving, most of the team took in their first barbecue dinner at world-renowned Rendezvous before settling down for the night.
On Wednesday, we had practice in the afternoon and registered the team for competition.
Our group included two teams that had won their Regional Tournaments to qualify for the National Tournament. First up for our team was the Colorado School for Mines (CSM). Scouting is nearly impossible in these situations but we knew that CSM had tied Louisiana State University (LSU) earlier in the day so a victory against CSM would mean we would advance to the knock out stages of the tournament.
Though we carried play against CSM, we struggled to find the net until Sophomore Ryan Jacobs (Holland, MI) was taken down in the penalty area late in the first half. Matt Kaminski (Saline, MI) stepped up to give the Spartans the heading to half time. In the 60th minute of the game, Ryan was able to get on the score sheet as he finished at the far post with the assist coming from Senior Ron Dewberry (Kalamazoo, MI). We sealed the game with a goal from Senior Chris Tatti (Port Huron, MI) with the assist coming from fellow Senior Matt Vander Meer (Grand Rapids, MI). Senior Ryan Lovell (Grand Rapids, MI) and Junior Kai Walther (Canton, MI) combined for the shutout. Our 3-0 victory put us through to the knock out stages, but we wanted to win the group.
As the final match of the first day of competition, we kicked off against LSU at 815pm CST - and we immediately put LSU on their heels. Matt Kaminski scored in the second minute with the assist from Junior Max Washko (Livonia, MI) and those two combined only minutes - this time with Max scoring and Matt assisting - later to give a commanding 2-0 lead within the first five minutes of the game. Just after halftime Senior defender Tyler White (Louisville, KY) soared above everyone off a corner kick from Ryan Jacobs to give the Spartans a 3-0 lead. Our dominating performance was complete with a 4th goal as Matt Kaminski scored his second with the assist from Chris Tatti.
After winning the group, we had a match up against Georgia (UGA) in the Round of 16. This is the round we were eliminated from the 2011 National Tournament. Georgia took second place in their group behind Cal Poly. The game was very physical, but we took the lead halfway through the first half with the goal coming from Eke Ofili (Asaba, Nigeria) and assist from Bobby DiPietro (Windsor, Canada). UGA tied the game shortly thereafter. Though both teams created goal scoring chance, the game remained tied after regulation and overtime period. The team that advanced to the Quarter-Finals would be determined by a penalty kick shootout. Matt Kaminski, Senior Tanner Higgins (Grand Rapids, MI), Max Washko and Ron Dewberry all made their spot kicks. UGA made their first three before Ryan Lovell saved their fourth shooter. Senior Darus Ward (Monrovia, Liberia) who had missed his penalty against Illinois at the Regional Tournament stepped up with the chance to send the team through to the next round. He calmly scored his penalty kick and our team was on the way to the Quarter-Finals to play against Illinois.
The team had advanced to the Quarter-Finals once before (2009) and lost in penalties to the University of Colorado. Illinois was a familiar foe as they knocked us out of the Regional Tournament. The game was fairly even with both teams creating a few scoring chances. It appeared as though the game may head to overtime until Matt Vander Meer crossed a ball into the box towards Eke Ofili. The Illinois defender stretched to get his on the ball but was only able to flip it towards his own goal...where their goalkeeper had also committed to the cross. With the goal empty, the ball went into the air and floated towards the line. As Illinois scrambled to get to the ball, MSU fans and players watched as the ball fell into the goal to give the team a 1-0 lead. The team defended well and held on for a 1-0 victory and a Final Four appearance.
The Final Four opponent was Cinderella-story Washington University (St. Louis). Possession and offensive chances were dominated by the Spartans, but the score was 0-0 at halftime. WashU was scrappy and made the game difficult for the team. However, early in the second half the Spartans were able to crack the goal as Sophomore Adam Kundinger (Midland, MI) scored the opening goal by putting away the rebound of his own shot. Only moments later the lead was doubled as Tyler White scored off a corner kick again - with the assist from Ryan Jacobs. The game was put away late when Eke Ofili scored his second goal of the tournament with the assist coming from Senior Miguel Joaquin (Grand Rapids, MI).
The team qualified for the Championship game for the first time in the program's history. In order to win the Championship, they would have to defeat defending National Champions Weber State.
Before our game would kick off, the womens team played in the Championship game (their first ever appearance) against four-time defending champion UC Santa Barbara. The boys arrived in time for the start of the game to cheer on the girls. The womens team went to overtime as the game was tied 1-1 and scored their golden goal winner to be crowned National Champs!! After their celebration and on-field awards ceremony, our team was ready for the final match of the tournament.
Weber State was very athletic and very big. They continually challenged our back line, but the center back combination of Sophomore Brad Sauchak (Okemos, MI) and Junior Andrew Phinney (Grand Ledge, MI) held strong and kept Weber State away from our goal. Senior Mike Nickerson (Livonia, MI) was also in rotation for the whole tournament with Brad and Andrew - the three of them were very strong in the air and really limited Weber State chances. Late in the first half we created a great scoring chance as Eke Ofili was sent into the box with a great through ball. He was able to fire a low cross to a sprinting Adam Kundinger who put the ball just over the cross bar.
In the second half we were able to carry play and create some great scoring chances, but the game ended with neither team scoring. After an overtime period where we dominated including have a Matt Kaminski effort saved off the goal line, the National Championship would be decided with penalty kicks. Ron Dewberry suffered an injury and was unable to be a penalty shooter. We were up first and Matt Kaminski scored his penalty kick. Ryan Lovell guessed correctly on Weber State's first kick, but it was just out of his reach. MSU's second shooter was Tanner Higgins, who also converted his spot kick. Ryan then saved Weber State's second penalty to give the Spartans an advantage. Because Ron was unable to take a penalty, Adam Kundinger became the 3rd shooter and he also scored his kick to increase the pressure on the Weber State shooters. Ryan became a hero when he saved the 3rd Weber State effort to give the Spartans the opportunity to win the National Championship with the 4th penalty shooter. Max Washko coolly and calmly walked to the spot and easily converted his kick to give the Spartans their first National Championship!!
The boys rushed the field and celebrated together before the awards ceremony. Each player was awarded a medal and then individual awards were announced.
All-Tournament Team - Max Washko, Andrew Phinney and Eke Ofili
Most Valuable Goalkeeper - Ryan Lovell
Most Outstanding Player - Matt Kaminski
It's important to note that 24 players made the trip to the tournament and all 24 played in at least 3 games. We stressed throughout the tournament that our bench and depth would be play as large a role in our success as anything else - and that most definitely proved to be true. All of the players - whether a starter or reserve for the match - were fully supportive of each other. The number of stories of team camaraderie are endless - but perhaps it's all exemplified by the final chant before leaving the field of "FAMILY"
#1 - Brad Sauchak - Okemos, MI
#3 - Tyler White - Louisville, KY
#4 - Adam Kundinger - Midland, MI
#5 - Michael Kaminski - Saline, MI
#6 - Chris Tatti - Port Huron, MI
#7 - Miguel Joaquin - Grand Rapids MI
#8 - Andrew Phinney - Grand Ledge, MI
#9 - Ron Dewberry - Kalamazoo, MI
#10 - Darus Ward - Monrovia, Liberia
#11 - Michael Henderson - Bloomfield Hills, MI
#12 - Bobby DiPietro - Windsor, Canada
#13 - Tanner Higgins - Grand Rapids, MI
#14 - Matt Vander Meer - Grand Rapids, MI
#15 - Sam Radelet - Washington DC
#16 - Stevie Sommerlot - Grand Ledge, MI
#17 - Max Washko - Livonia, MI
#18 - Eric Williams - Saline, MI
#19 - Matt Kaminski - Saline, MI
#20 - Alex Krug - Grand Haven, MI
#21 - AJ Kalina - Troy, MI
#24 - Ryan Jacobs - Holland, MI
#25 - Eke Ofili - Asaba, Nigeria
#26 - Michael Nickerson - Livonia, MI
#33 - Josh Wissner - Grand Ledge, MI
GK - Ryan Lovell - Grand Rapids, MI
GK - Nolan Holmes - Ypsilanti, MI
GK - Kai Walther - Canton, MI
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