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Cougars Take MVC Final; Make 23rd NCAA Appearance

Raising the MVC trophy
Raising the MVC trophy

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Devyn Jambga's goal in the 37th minute stood for SIUE as the Cougars claimed their second Missouri Valley Conference Tournament Championship in three seasons with a 1-0 win over host Missouri State Sunday at Allison South Stadium. SIUE will appear in its 23rd NCAA Tournament.

The Cougars will now wait to find out their NCAA Tournament first round opponent. The selection show is Monday at 12 p.m. CT and will be shown live at NCAA.com.

SIUE improved to 10-4-5 and extended its unbeaten streak to 12 games (9-0-3).

Jambga's strike came after an outstanding effort on the part of the Cougars striker. He made a run to from the left, cutting into the center, then unloaded a shot from the top of the 18-yard box with a low shot to the near post.

"He's super capable of that with his athleticism," said SIUE Head Coach Mario Sanchez. "He finds ways to score goals."

The goal from Jambga, his sixth of the season, was the only shot SIUE managed during the game. Missouri State finished with a 7-1 advantage in total shots. The Bears took three shots on goal.

"Early in the game we wanted to control the ball," said Sanchez. "We did a good job of it."

Sanchez wanted the Cougars to maintain their composure, knowing that Missouri State was playing with high emotion at home aiming for a conference title. "I was always confident that we could hold them at bay," said Sanchez.

"It takes one shot, and we got it," he added.

SIUE goalkeeper Kyle Dal Santo made all three saves to notch his eighth shutout of the season. It also is his 19th career shutout, tying him for fifth all-time at SIUE with SIUE Hall of Famer Rick Benben.

"Kyle continues to grow and develop as a player," said Sanchez. "With the help of Coach (Jeremy) Proud, he's adding a whole other dimension to his game. I couldn't be more proud of Kyle."

Jambga and Dal Santo were joined on the MVC All-Tournament Team by Keegan McHugh and Austin Ledbetter. Ledbetter earned Most Valuable Player honors.

"This kid (Ledbetter) is rock solid and the backbone of this team," noted Sanchez. "What stands out for me is his leadership."

Sanchez also thanked SIUE Director of Athletics Dr. Brad Hewitt.

"We're very happy and proud for Dr. Hewitt and his leadership in the athletic department," he said. "As well as our alumni, I can't thank Dr. Hewitt enough for his support of this team and the sport of soccer." 

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