The Missouri State men’s soccer team (3-2-2) defeated Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville (4-3-1) 1-0 in the Missouri Valley Conference opener Saturday night. Junior midfielder Jack Griffin found his way to the ball and knocked a header into the net in the waning seconds of the first overtime.

The Bears possessed the ball evenly with the Cougars during the first half, outshooting SIUE only 4-3. Sophomore goalkeeper Liam Priestly came up with a crucial save in the 20th minute.

Shortly after, freshman midfielder/forward Jake Buckle crossed the ball to freshman forward Conor Ingram who nearly scored, but had his shot deflected. Buckle then beat two defenders on the goal line and crossed the ball again but it was cleared. Senior forward James Thomas had a chance at goal just before halftime, but it went wide.

The second half got off to a physical start after a reckless foul by SIUE’s junior defender Andrew Kendall-Moullin, resulting in a yellow card at 37 minutes in.

Buckle had another shot attempt, sharply cutting in front of a SIUE defender and firing at the goal. Sophomore goalkeeper for the Cougars came up with a crucial save.

In the fifth minute, SIUE’s senior midfielder Jabari Danzy was sent off the field with a straight red card from the referee, after tackling an MSU player. As a result, the Cougars played down a man for the rest of the game, giving the Bears an advantage.

“I thought the referee did a good job keeping the game tight,” Head coach Jon Leamy said. “He let the kids play but he kept it tight and did a good job."

At the end of regular time, both teams were scoreless.

The Bears dominated during overtime, outshooting SIUE 6-0. Junior midfielder/forward Phil Woods took a corner kick with less than 10 seconds left in the first overtime and placed it just outside the six-yard box. That's when Griffin's big moment came. He headed it in the goal with only two seconds left to give the Bears the win.

“It was amazing,” Griffin said. “It’s the best feeling in the world, scoring a goal.”

SIUE beat the Bears 1-0 in the conference championship last year in an late overtime heartbreaker.

“These kids worked very, very hard,” Leamy said. “And deserved the result, absolutely deserved the result.”

The Bears will take on No. 1 nationally-ranked and former MVC opponent Creighton Tuesday at 7 p.m. in Omaha, Nebraska.

Cortlynn is a senior majoring in journalism with a minor in Spanish. She first worked as a reporter, covering sports and the Student Government Association. She then became news editor during her junior year. Now, she is the editor-in-chief.