Sept. 23, 2014
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - The Missouri State men's soccer team (3-2-2) played #25 Alabama-Birmingham (5-2-1) tough, but the Blazers pulled through winning, 3-1. In a matchup that featured the nation's top scoring defense from a season ago against the top scoring offense from 2013, something was bound to give way.
Missouri State came out as the early aggressors. The Bears earned the game's first corner kick. Brandon Barbero played it short, and after a few clever dribbles down the endline the ball floated out to Jack Griffin at the top of the box. Griffin launched a shot with pace towards net. The ball hit a Blazer straight on and knocked him down. As the keeper collected the loose ball, the play was whistled dead and the UAB defender was temporarily taken off the field before returning.
In the 36th minute, Emmerich Hoegg picked up where he left off last match. From outside of the box, much like his other two goals on the year, Hoegg struck a quality ball towards goal. The Blazers were not set to defend and Hoegg's accuracy paid off as the ball went into the back of the net. Hoegg leads MSU this season with three goals, and is the first player to score in consecutive games since he did it a season ago to open the year against Incarnate Word (Aug. 30, 2013) and Nebraska Omaha (Sept. 1, 2013).
Missouri State took the lead into the half, but the Blazers looked like a brand new team after the intermission.
In the 57th minute, Lars Willemse received a corner kick cross from Stewart Abrahart on the far side of the field. Willemsie received it and was able to head it past the MSU defense. 16 minutes later, UAB used some crafty passing to add on a second goal. The precision on the passing game ended with Rami Dajani right in front of the net, with an easy finish.
In the frantic final minutes of the game, Alabama-Birmingham earned a penalty kick and was able to add a final goal, making it 3-1.
The Bears will travel back to Springfield to play their longest home stretch of the year. Games include this Saturday against Air Force and next Tuesday against Tulsa, both clubs are receiving votes in the latest NSCAA coach's poll.