That sure does seem like a long time ago now.
The No. 7-ranked Mustangs rolled to its sixth win in their last seven games while extending their unbeaten streak to 13 game with a 1-0 win in the second round of the NCAA Division II Playoffs Sunday afternoon at the MSU Soccer Field.
MSU moves on to the Round of 16 to face Regis (Colo.) Thursday in Denver with a start time to be determined.
And difference may have been a bit fortuitous for the Mustangs as junior midfielder Andrew Power took a deflection off of a corner kick in the ninth minute of play and found the back of the net for his fifth goal of the season.
"I served it over and (junior defender) Kalen (Ryden) tried to put it on frame. He just mis-kicked it a little bit and it came back out," Power said. "I didn't mean to score. I put it back in the box and the keeper made a mess of it and it went in. We deserved that bit of luck all season. Some decisions went against us and that's one that went for us."
It didn't look much different from MSU coach Doug Elder's angle either.
"I have no clue what happened there. I think they thought it was out-of-bounds," he said. "I think he was trying to play it back in and smash it to try to get a rebound. Sure enough he did."
The scene was a bit different just 59 days ago at the same venue when the Mustangs suffered a 2-1 golden goal defeat to St. Edward's to send the team reeling to a 1-3 start. MSU hasn't lost since.
"I tell our guys they should never be happy where we are, but if you would have told me (after the 1-3 start) that we wouldn't lose another game and you would host a first-round game and go to the Sweet 16 I would have laughed," Elder said. "For the guys to respond to losing games and the expectations of the team and our tradition was very difficult. But at the end of the day, it's still 90 minutes. It's still 120 by 70 and it's still the same size goals. If you block all of the stuff out and just get the job done, we'll be fine. That's what we'll do against Regis."
The Mustangs did it through strong defensive efforts in front of sophomore Nick Petolick, who posted his ninth shutout in 12 starts. The team hasn't tasted defeat since he took his first start between the posts just two days after the heartbreaker to the Hilltoppers.
Ryden and sophomore Jevan Toledo settled in at the center back spots while the midfielders traded off marking duties on Colorado Mines three-time All American Tesho Akindele, who produced just three shots placing one of them on goal.
"In the run of play, I didn't feel like they threatened that much. They didn't put as much pressure on us as I thought they would," Elder said. "I think (Akindele) tried to do a lot on his own and didn't get a lot of support from other players. That helped us a little bit."
Midwestern State returns to the Round of 16 for the first time since 2010. The Mustangs are going for their sixth national quarterfinal showing since 2002 as the MSU/Regis faces the winner of the West Region final between UC-San Diego and Simon Fraser (B.C.) Sunday in Denver. All games will be played at Regis Soccer and Lacrosse Pitch.
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