SPRINGFIELD, Mon. – In a season of impressive performances, the University of Evansville men’s soccer team put up another one, losing 1-0 to leaders and hosts Missouri State in the Missouri Valley Conference Championship finals on Sunday afternoon in Springfield, Missouri.
“I can’t say enough about the boys this season and how much they fought and fought for each other and I think it showed in the final today,” said Aces Head Men’s Soccer Coach Marshall Ray. “We got beat up and then Alex (Vidizzoni) went down early but the lads reacted and Landon (Amick) played great and it’s been like that all season. The next guy came in and did his job. Unlucky “That we couldn’t get what we worked for all season but thank Missouri State. They’re a good team and we held on and gave each other some chances late. I wish them the best in the NCAA .” tournament and we look forward to starting the 2023 season. Special thanks to these three seniors who stayed with us and got us through some of the bad times and helped us reach better times and hopefully better times are to come. Thanks to Raph, Evan and Brian for all they gave to the program.”
In the afternoon attack, Evansville recorded 11 shots on the Bears’ 19. The 11 shots for UE marked only the fifth time this season that Missouri State had allowed 10 or more shots, with the aces representing two of them. Junior forward Kai Phillip led Evansville by three shots on the day, while sophomore Jose Vivas and freshmen Nacho Diaz and Nalu Wagner had two shots each. Goalkeeper Alex Vidizzoni was one of the starting XI in goal, but had to end his game early in the eighth minute due to an injury. Redshirt newcomer Landon Amick came on as a replacement for Vidizzoni, who showed a strong performance with relief. Amick stopped six shots from Missouri State, including a save from a penalty, making only the third appearance of his college playing career.
After just 6:43 into the game, Evansville was tasked with making a substitution, who did so early in the first half for the second straight game after Jon Varela was substituted against Belmont early Thursday. This time it was Alex Vidizzoni who had to be substituted after injury while chasing a shot in Missouri State. Stepping in between the posts was Landon Amick, who played bravely. Offensively, Evansville created their first chance in the eighth minute when Diaz headed a ball just over the bar. Amick was first tested in the 14th minute when a shot from MVC Player of the Year Jesus Barea fired a shot on goal that Amick parried. Later in the half, Missouri State was awarded a penalty when an ace and bear collided in the box. Kian Yari stepped in for MSU and sent his attempt down the left flank. Amick read the run-up and dove to the right, making the save and keeping the match scoreless. Another opportunity for Evansville came in the closing minutes of the first half when Oliver Hald sent a free-kick into the box which Ethan Garvey headed back over the 18. Diaz made a dive attempt to reach the ball and headed it just wide of the post in play to go to a tie at half-time.
Evansville continued to press and got their first chance in the 56th minute when Jose Vivas played the ball forward for Nkosi Graham, who dribbled past a Bear defender and sent a diagonal shot towards the far post, the MSU- Keeper Harry Townsend accidentally caught a finger and tip away. The breakthrough for the Bears came in the 60th minute when a ball quickly crossed into the box found the streaky James Jennings, who shoved it past Amick and gave Missouri State the lead. With the Bears sitting back defensively to secure the result, Evansville’s chances were limited in the final half-hour, but Kai Phillip missed a high shot as the second ticked off and the Bears secured the 1-0 win.
Evansville ends the 2022 season with an 8-5-6 overall record, marking the lowest single-season losses since 1996.
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