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Michigan State Falls To UNC, 2-1, in First Exhibition

Redshirt senior Ryan Thelen assisted Cope with the Spartan goal against UNC.

Aug 22, 2013

EAST LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan State men’s soccer team battled No. 4 North Carolina in its first exhibition game of the 2013 preseason, but came up short 2-1 to the Tar Heels on Thursday in Fort Wayne, Ind. Playing at the Shindigz National Soccer Festival, 16 Spartans saw action in the first opportunity for play this season.

“There were some good things and some not so good things that happened,” said head coach Damon Rensing. “All in all, it was a good lesson for us. I saw some things that we did well and some things that you have to do to win games and we didn’t do a couple of things and at this level you’re not going to win. At times, we played really well, but certainly not consistent enough. We’re going to have to do some things to get better. That’s why we play a good team like North Carolina so we can really test ourselves to see where our weaknesses and strengths are and come back and work harder to get better.” 

With both teams fighting for possession throughout the first 30 minutes of play, MSU pressured the UNC defense with strong attacking play from redshirt senior Ryan Thelen and redshirt freshman Andrew Herr. Starting in goal, sophomore Zach Bennett made two great saves in the first half, but let one go through to give the Tar Heels a 1-0 lead in the 37th minute.

“I thought we started the game well,” Rensing said. “The first 10 or 12 minutes, I thought we had a pretty decent run of play and got in behind once or twice. To North Carolina’s credit, they settled in and really started to get the ball moving. We didn’t do enough things to put them back under pressure. We struggled in possession and at the end of the day, just gave up a soft goal before halftime. That was kind of deflating because even though North Carolina was probably the better team in the first half, we still could have gone in the locker room 0-0.”



The Spartans responded in the second half with shots from redshirt junior Tim Kreutz and junior Fatai Alashe as MSU added pressure in the final third. A corner kick from UNC led to its second goal midway into the second half. After continued shots on goal from sophomore Jay Chapman, junior Blake Skamiera and redshirt senior Brent McIntosh, a corner from Thelen headed into the back of the net by redshirt senior Kevin Cope put MSU on the board.

“To our guys credit, I thought we responded in the second half well,” said Rensing. “We tried to create some chances early. We gave up a corner kick goal, which is something we should be able to defend. Then I thought we responded and pushed in getting a goal ourselves and trying to make a game of it. It was the second exhibition game for North Carolina and they had some kinks already worked out and that showed in our first half a little bit and then we responded.”

Michigan State will continue preseason play as the team makes the short trip to Kentwood, Mich., for its second and final exhibition against Butler on Saturday, Aug. 24 at 8 p.m.

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