Men's Soccer Aims for First Conference Win at No. 21 Creighton Saturday
Freshman Jon Boyack
Freshman Jon Boyack

Oct. 26, 2012

The Missouri State men's soccer team (5-6-4, 0-4-0 MVC) travels to Omaha, Neb. to take on its second consecutive ranked opponent in No. 21 Creighton (11-3-2, 3-0-1 MVC) on Saturday at 2 p.m.

This year's match will be the 33rd meeting between Missouri State and Creighton. The Bears are 8-20-4 all-time against the Bluejays and 3-10-4 when playing in Omaha, Neb.

It is the second-longest standing series for the Bears. Missouri State and former MVC institution, Tulsa, have met 38 times in the Bears' 32-year program history.

Missouri State is 2-2-1 in the past five meetings with the Bluejays. The Bears last win in Omaha, Neb. came during the 2009 regular season with a 1-0 shutout against the sixth-ranked Creighton squad.

The Bears met then-No. 2 Creighton in the MVC Tournament title game and had a chance to knock off the Bluejays for the second time in 2011. Creighton registered three shots on goal before the fourth slipped past Missouri State goalkeeper Trevor Spangenberg in the 38th minute.

Missouri State was limited to just five shots on the day and only two were on target. With the loss, the Bears dropped to 0-4 in the MVC title match when facing the Bluejays.

The Missouri State men upset then-No. 4 Creighton on October 12, 2011 to record its first-ever win over a top-five opponent. The Bears had beaten a sixth-ranked opponent on three different occasions, but were 0-10-3 in matches against top-five teams before the Creighton victory.

The Bears' game-winner came halfway through the first half on a Bluejay defensive breakdown. A ricocheted ball off of MVC Goalkeeper of the Year, Brian Holt, made its way back to senior forward Heath Melugin. From 15 yards out, Melugin chipped the ball into a wide open net to put the Bears up 1-0 in the 23rd minute. MSU held strong after intermission, controlling the clock and allowing just one shot on goal in the final 45 minutes. The Bears handed Holt just his third goal allowed on the season and were the only MVC squad to score on the Bluejays.

Creighton will be the fourth ranked opponent that the Bears have faced this season: No. 26 UC Irvine, No. 23 Xavier and No. 19 SMU.

In the recent NCAA Division I Men's Soccer RPI Rankings that were released on Monday (Oct. 22), the Bears were ranked 139th. Missouri State has played seven opponents currently rated in the top 100 of the RPI rankings. Included in that list are No. 19 SMU, No. 25 Xavier, No. 30 SIU Edwardsville, No. 62 Evansville, No. 64 Memphis, No. 72 Dartmouth and No. 85 Bradley.
Conference Struggles
For just the second time in its MVC history, Missouri State is 0-4 to begin league play. The only other time this occurred was in 1992 when the Bears went 0-5 in their second year of Valley play.

Missouri State has scored just one goal in league play. The Bears have been outscored 6-1 in four MVC matchups.

The Bears' offensive attack has been limited to five shots or less in its past three matches. Against SIU Edwardsville (3), Central Arkansas (4) and No. 19 SMU (5), the Bears totaled 12 shots and four shots on goal.

Missouri State has allowed more than one goal in just three matches this season. On all three occasions, one player on each of the opposing teams has accounted for the multiple-goal performances.

The stout Missouri State defense has only given up two goals in the first half. The Bears had not allowed a first-half goal in its first 10 matches, however Bradley's J.T. Kotowski snapped the streak in the Bears' conference opener.

The Bears' 4-0-3 start rivaled the 2005 MSU squad that began the season 8-0-2. In addition to starting the first six matches with an unblemished record, the Bears also shut out five consecutive opponents. The only other time in program history this had been accomplished was during that 2005 campaign.

In his debut season, sophomore forward Jack Wood has scored twice off of free kicks. His first came in the Bears' 2-2 double-overtime draw with No. 26 UC Irvine. The second was the game-winner in MSU's 1-0 overtime win over Memphis at home on Oct. 3.

Missing from this year's lineup are five athletes who combined for 312 total starts. That group included Heath Melugin, Missouri State's leading scorer from 2008-2011, MVC All-Tournament selections Gerard Barbero and Thomas Vania, all-MVC honorable mention pick Jordan Hoffman, and David Buckenheimer, who started in 75 of 78 matches he played in.

Sophomore goalkeeper Andrew Riggs earned the starting spot after junior Trevor Spangenberg went down with a season-ending injury in the offseason. Andrew is the younger brother of former MVC Defensive Player of the Year (2009) and Goalkeeper of the Year (2010), Alex Riggs.

Nine different Bears have scored a goal this season, including six of which were the first of their careers (Boyack, Bray, Maher, Thomas, Turner and Wood.

The Missouri State men's soccer team has again joined forces with the MSU Entertainment Management program to stage the 2012 Living Our Legacy game, presented by Great Southern Bank. This year, the marquee game is set for Friday, November 2 at 7 p.m. when the Bears host MVC opponent Drake in their regular-season finale at Plaster Field.

In three previous Living Our Legacy matches, the Bears are undefeated with a 2-0-1 record. It is also no coincidence that the wins have corresponded with two of the top three all-time attendance figures in MSU men's soccer history. The past two Living Our Legacy games have averaged 1,763 fans, while the 2010 event produced the second largest crowd in program history (2,027) and was just 76 off the all-time record.

Cole Alexander leads the team in goals (3), points (6), shots (30) and shots on goal (12).
Andrew Riggs has play in goal all 1434 minutes this season. He sports a 0.75 goals against average and a .812 save percentage with six shutouts in 15 matches.
• Eighteen different Bears have logged a start this season, while six have started all 15 matches (Maher, Bray, Clark, Fawke, Griffiths and Riggs).

The Last Meeting
Missouri State0
November 13, 2011
Omaha, Neb.
Bears Fall Short in MVC Tournament Championship to No. 2 Creighton, 1-0
The Missouri State men's soccer team (9-8-2) had a chance to knock off the second-ranked Creighton Bluejays (18-2-0) for a second time this season, but suffered a 1-0 shutout in the State Farm MVC Tournament Championship game.



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