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OSU men's soccer: Beavers reach new territory with win over St. John's

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The Oregon State men’s soccer team has reached the third round of the NCAA tournament for the first time in the program’s history.

The Beavers advanced out of the second round with a 2-0 victory over St. John’s at Lorenz Field on Sunday night. Next up for the top-seeded Beavers is a home match against No. 16 New Hampshire at 6 p.m. Sunday. The Wildcats reached the third round with a 4-1 victory over North Carolina.

If Oregon State (13-2-3) wins that match, it will also host a national quarterfinal the following week against the winner of this week’s match between No. 8 Clemson and No. 9 Kentucky.

Against St. John’s, the Beavers scored 10 minutes into the match when Carlos Moliner took a hard shot from close range. St. John’s goalkeeper Luka Gavran made the save but gave up a rebound which Mouhameth Thiam knocked home.

Oregon State coach Terry Boss said scoring the early goal made a "massive" difference for the team.

"Goals change games, they always do," Boss said. "That let us breathe a little bit. I think we continued to play a good first half. I think in the second half, they stepped up their pressure. I think there were times we could have been better with it but it's something we'll build on.”

The Red Storm presented a physical and tactical challenge for the Beavers. St. John’s is a big squad which sets a high line defensively, putting pressure on the Beavers to not turn the ball over in their own end. Oregon State created space early in the game by playing a few passes over the top of the defense, but for the most part the Beavers were patient in their attack.

Oregon State midfielder Sofiane Djeffal said the team practiced against this defensive approach during the week.

“Different teams come with different game plans against us and their game plan was to put pressure really high and to make sure we can’t really find those pockets because I think that’s one of our biggest strengths. And they made it difficult,” Djeffal said.

Oregon State narrowly avoided giving up a tying goal in the closing seconds of the first half. The Red Storm drew a corner kick and in the ensuing scramble in front of Oregon State goalkeeper Adrian Fernandez knocked two shots off the crossbar.

Moliner felt the Beavers missed an opportunity to extend their lead.

“I feel we could have scored a couple more goals in the first half but sometimes it’s like that,” Moliner said. “The thing is to keep going, keep attacking, finding the next play and I think we did it. We kept that mindset and … I’m very proud of the team.”

The 1-0 score held until the 85th minute when Oregon State’s Javier Armas scored off a pass from Djeffal.

Junior midfielder Adrian Crespo was injured just 4 minutes into the match on a hard tackle. Freshman Dante Williams filled his spot.

Boss said Crespo injured his shoulder and it was too early to know if he would be available against New Hampshire. Crespo was a second-team all-Pac-12 selection this season.

“I thought Dante did a great job coming in for him, but he’s certainly a player that we miss. He’s been a heartbeat of this group since he got here and you never like to see a player like that go down. But we’ll hope for the best and we hope he’s back and ready to go for Sunday,” Boss said.

Two other Pac-12 teams were also in action this weekend. Unseeded UCLA was knocked out by No. 7 Duke, 2-1. Washington, the No. 2 seed, advanced with a 3-1 victory over the University of Portland.

The other top seeds, No. 3 Georgetown and No. 4 Notre Dame, also advanced.

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