Aces men’s soccer falls in MVC Championship, 1-0, to Missouri State

Published: Nov. 13, 2022 at 11:54 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, MO. (WFIE) - In a season filled with impressive efforts, the University of Evansville men’s soccer team turned-in another, ultimately falling to top-seed and host Missouri State, 1-0, in the Missouri Valley Conference Championship final on Sunday afternoon in Springfield, Mo.

”I can’t say enough about the guys this season and how much they fought and battled for each other and I think that showed today in the final,” said Aces head men’s soccer coach Marshall Ray. “We were banged up and then with Alex (Vidizzoni) going down early, but the guys responded and Landon (Amick) played great and that’s kind of how it’s been all season. The next guy up has come in and done their job. Unfortunate that we couldn’t get what we’ve been working all season for, but credit to Missouri State. They’re a good team and we kept ourselves in it and gave ourselves some chances late. I wish them all the best in the NCAA Tournament and we look forward to getting started on the 2023 season. Special thanks to those three seniors that stuck around and saw us through some of the bad times and helped us get to better times and hopefully better times are ahead. Thank you to Raph, Evan, and Brian for all they’ve given to the program.”

On the attack, Evansville recorded 11 shots on the afternoon to the Bears’ 19. The 11 shots for UE marked just the fifth time this season that Missouri State has allowed 10-or-more shots with the Aces representing two of those. Junior forward Kai Phillip led Evansville on the day with three shots, while sophomore Jose Vivas and freshmen Nacho Diaz and Nalu Wagner each had two shots. In goal, graduate keeper Alex Vidizzoni got the start, but saw his match cut short due to an injury sustained in the eighth minute. Coming on to replace Vidizzoni was redshirt freshman Landon Amick, who turned-in a strong performance in relief. Amick stopped six Missouri State shots, including a save of a penalty, making just his third career collegiate appearance.

Just 6:43 into the match, Evansville was tasked with making a substitution, doing so early in the first half for the the second-straight match after Jon Varela was subbed-off early on Thursday against Belmont. This time, it was Alex Vidizzoni who was forced off after an injury while pursuing a Missouri State shot. Entering was Landon Amick between the posts who performed valiantly. Offensively, Evansville generated its first chance in the eighth minute as Diaz headed a ball just over the crossbar. Amick was tested for the first time in the 14th minute as a shot from MVC Player of the Year Jesus Barea released a shot on goal that Amick saved. Later in the half, Missouri State earned a penalty as an Ace and Bear collided in the box. Kian Yari stepped to the spot for MSU and sent his attempt towards the left side. Amick read the run up and dove to his right, making the save and keeping the match scoreless. Another opportunity for Evansville was created inside the opening half’s final minutes as Oliver Hald sent a free kick into the box that Ethan Garvey headed back across the 18. Diaz made a diving attempt at the ball and headed it just wide of the post as the match went to the half tied at zero.

Continuing to apply pressure, Evansville’s first chance came in the 56th minute as Jose Vivas played the ball forward for Nkosi Graham, who dribbled past a Bear defender and sent a diagonal shot towards the far post that MSU keeper Harry Townsend just happened to get a finger on and tip away. The break-through for the Bears came in the 60th minute as a ball quickly crossed into the box found the streaking James Jennings, who clipped it past Amick, giving Missouri State the lead. As the Bears sat back defensively to preserve the result, Evansville’s chances were limited over the final half hour, but Kai Phillip had a shot miss high as the second ticked away and the Bears captured the 1-0 win.