MSU falls just short in MCLA National Tournament

Michigan State drew the #3 seed and defending national champion Grand Canyon University in the first round of the 20th MCLA national tournament and gave the Lopes all they could handle before dropping a 10-7 decision in Irvine California.

The Spartans game plan was to neutralize Grand Canyon's dominate face off unit and limit the number of possessions for their high powered offense, and they were poised to provide the MCLA national championship tournament with perhaps its greatest upset in history - a #14 seed beating a #3 seed who was also the defending national champion.

MSU's sophomore midfielder Steve McKee got the action started with two goals at the 4:04 and 2:54 marks to put the Spartans up 2-1 after the first quarter.

Freshman attack Charlie Pistner added a goal in the second quarter with 4:13 remaining and the scored was tied at halftime 3-3.

All season the Spartans have outscored their opponents in the third quarter and Monday night was no exception. Freshman Shawn O'loughlin scored at 7:38 from 13 yards off a nice pass from senior Mitch Newton from behind the goal. On the ensuing face off freshman John Toth won the draw and passed to Mitch Newton who again assisted with a pinpoint pass to freshman Tyler Vanschoick on the crease for MSU's second goal in five seconds. Charlie Pistner added his second goal of the night from 12 yards out at 5:12 and freshman Brett Braun completed a four goal third quarter for the Spartans at 1:28 with a left handed shot from 10 yards out. 

The Spartans led 7-4 with 1:28 remaining in third and had all the momentum before GCU scored two quick goals to pull to within one, 7-6, at the end of three.

The Lopes would tie the score 7-7 at 9:31 of the fourth quarter as #4 Joe Balestrerie, a transfer from NCAA Division 3 powerhouse Stevenson, would score his fourth goal of the night. At 8:34 Spartan freshman goalie, Joseph Catanese, stopped a 12 yard GCU shot, only go have the ball bounce high out of his crosse directly to a GCU player for an easy goal on the doorstep. The Lopes would lead 8-7 and added a goal at 5:34 and a final empty-net goal with 0:20 remaining as the Spartans were attempting a 10-man ride with goalie Catanese out of the goal and defending a Grand Canyon field player.

Michigan State ends the season with a record of 9-5, with four of their losses coming in the first 10 days of the season. The Spartans had won seven in a row prior to the loss to Grand Canyon, including their fifth consecutive CCLA conference championship. The Spartans defeated Colorado State 11-10 in the MCLA tournament consolation game on May 10. Nine MSU seniors played their last game for the Green & White, having graduated this past weekend or used up their eligibility. 

"Grand Canyon Fights Off Sparty Scare" from