Mustang Soccer Falls in OT at NCAA Regionals

Senior forward Mark Kelly was able to beat the clock Friday afternoon to give Regis (Colo.) a 2-1 result in the third round of the NCAA Division II playoffs at the RU Match Pitch in Denver.

The Rangers (14-3-1) move on to face Simon Fraser (B.C.) Sunday afternoon in the national quarterfinals for the right to advance to the Final Four in two weeks in Evans, Ga. The Clan advanced past UC-San Diego earlier in the afternoon on penalty kicks.

RU junior Andreas Bitter served across into the MSU box in the closing seconds of the first overtime to find an open Kelly, who trapped it in time to notch his 14th goal of the season.

"He got free on the back side," MSU coach Doug Elder said. "He was able to trap it and we knew he would finish. He's a great player."

The loss snaps a brilliant run by the Mustangs, who strung together a 14-match unbeaten streak after suffering setbacks in three of their first four matches this season to deliver the program's ninth NCAA playoff appearance -- all since the start of the 2002 campaign.

"Our guys have had a great run," Elder said. "I'm very proud of the guys for doing what they did. They fought through adversity. I am disappointed with how we lost because it was a pretty hard fought match."

MSU (12-4-2) struck for the opener in the game's 53rd minute as sophomore forward Idrissa Camara headed in his fifth goal of the season off of an assist from sophomore Ben Clarvis.

"Benji served in a great ball," Elder said. "Idi just beat the guy to the ball and smashed a header in from 8 yards out. It was a great goal."

By statistics, it was the only shot the Mustangs put on frame all afternoon, but it appeared to be the only shot they would need, but the match would not be without a bit of controversy. All of it would come on the equalizer.

Junior midfielder Arnthor Kristinsson was the benefactor of a big commotion in Midwestern's box resulting off of a corner kick in the 84th minute.

"They just bowled (junior defender) Kalen (Ryden) over and scored it," Elder said. "Then (sophomore goalkeeper) Nick (Petolick) got knocked down. That kinda made us lose our head, but we were able to recover to play hard in overtime."

Kelly and MSU junior striker Dan Johns received cautions resulting from the scrum.

Still, the Mustangs pushed forward for a pair of solid scoring opportunities in the closing minutes, but senior forward Griff Stratford blast in the 87th minute drifting wide left, while senior midfielder B.A. Catney's offering sailed high a minute later.

"B.A. did a good job of carrying the ball and Griff had a great chance to end it in regulation," Elder said. "We just gave them too many corners and a too many chances to get in our final third as the game got later."