Spartans Down Duke, 1-0, in Exhibition Finale
Aug. 19, 2012
The Michigan State men's soccer team capped its pre-season training with a 1-0 victory over ACC power Duke in Angola, Ind. on Sunday afternoon. Redshirt sophomore Tim Kreutz had the lone goal for the Spartans, who mounted an impressive defensive stance on the day and limited quality opportunities for the Blue Devils.
"The thing that pleased me most was that the things that we talked about after Friday's game [a 1-1 tie with IPFW] the players addressed with their games today," said head coach Damon Rensing. "The things we stressed that we needed to tighten up or work on, it was very apparent that the players were making those adjustments, and it's great to see them execute at the level they did today.
"It was a great way for us to close out our pre-season and tune up for the games at home next weekend," continued Rensing. "Today really had the intensity and feeling of a game that meant something to both teams, which can be hard in an exhibition. We were able to get a lot of players onto the field.
The first half saw the teams come out and maintain an intense pace, and both teams looked sharp. Rensing was impressed with how his team handled that pace, yet continued to create opportunities. While purposely utilizing many on the bench in the second half, the team stuck to its game plan and kept Duke off the board. In net, redshirt junior Bryce Dobbins played the first 70 minutes before making way for freshman Zach Bennett, who finished the game.
Rensing was impressed with the play of his backline, which limited Duke's offensive chances on the day. The Spartans are seeing the return of junior All-America candidate Kevin Cope, who missed the entire 2011 season with injury.
Kreutz, too, missed all of 2011 with a medical redshirt, but made it clear on Sunday that he's ready to jump back into action. His putback of an Adam Montague shot was the only score for either team on the day, but Rensing credted Montague with being "dangerous all day". Montague's shot on the goal was a low, hard shot that the keeper got his hands on for a save, but an opportunistic Kreutz stuck with the play and buried the rebound.
The win over Duke helped cap MSU's participation in the Shindigz Summer Soccer Festival and the Midwest Soccer Mixup. Trine, a Division III institution, played host not only to the MSU-Duke contest, but also a Wisconsin-Evansville tilt to complete the Sunday twinbill. "A big thanks to Trine and in particular their women's coach, Terry Stefankiewicz," added Rensing. "Everyone made an effort to support these exhibition games on the Trine campus, when there was a lot already going on with the school year beginning. It was a great experience for us while we were there, and we thank them for their hospitality."
The Spartans open the 2012 season next weekend with a pair of home games. MSU plays Valparaiso on Friday at 5 p.m., then hosts New Hampshire on Sunday at 2:30.
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