11.18.21 Soccer

Senior Aadne Bruseth races Freshman Miguel Ventura for possession of the ball. The Bears lost 1-0 to the Creighton Bluejays in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Thursday, Nov. 18 in Springfield, Mo.

The Missouri State Soccer Bears were close all game.

Creighton had been packing things in defensively to prevent the Bears from scoring, but it had not stopped MSU from having a litany of chances.

Ultimately, Creighton’s Diego Guiterrez split a double-team and scored the game’s lone goal to defeat MSU 1-0.

The loss means the Bears’ season is over with a 17-2 record. The 17 wins was the most wins by an NCAA team heading into the national tournament.

It just wasn’t (the Bears') night,” head coach Jon Leamy said. “And that’s soccer sometimes. It doesn’t take away — for one second — what this group was able to accomplish this year.”

With the loss, Missouri State graduates a group of seniors who help launch the program onto a national stage in 2019. That year the Bears had an 18-1-1 season and the program's first-ever national tournament win. The achievements continued last season, where the Bears went 12-2 in a COVID-19 shortened spring. MSU fell in the Sweet 16 to Washington.

Those seniors are: forwards Josh Dolling, Joel Peterson, Aadne Bruseth and Nicolo Mulatero, midfielders Nicoles Torres and Jack Denton, goalkeeper Michael Creek and defenders Kyle Hiebert, Connor Langan and Gregg Stratton. A few could still return using the extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA due to COVID-19, but several already used it to return this year.

“(Missouri State) has meant a lot,” Dolling said. “Obviously everyone was getting a bit emotional there, and I tried to distance myself — keep it composed. But I love all them boys. All a great bunch of lads.”

The end of the season also signals the end of an era at Missouri State. Leamy now moves into retirement after being the Bears’ head coach since 1992. He’s led the Bears to multiple MVC titles, several NCAA tournaments and helped create a national title contender.

Leamy was moved to tears when asked what Missouri State has meant to him. All he was able to say was “This is home.”

Leamy’s replacement will be a familiar face in Michael Seabolt. Seabolt came to Springfield as an assistant in 2007, and was quickly promoted to associate head coach in 2009. His official start date is Jan. 1, 2022.

“He’s the best coach I’ve worked with, and I’ve worked with a lot in England,” Dolling, who is a native of Liverpool, England, said. “The level of detail that people don’t see, and normal fans wouldn’t see, is just crazy. (The team) will keep on doing good.”

        

Follow Stephen Terrill on Twitter, @stevethe2nd

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