Sep 1, 2013
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State men's soccer team officially kicked off the 2013 season with an exciting home opening matchup with Western Michigan on Sunday afternoon at DeMartin Stadium. The Spartans scored early and didn't let up, with an offensive attack, building one of the best opening games for Michigan State in the past few seasons. With the win, MSU is 1-0-0 on the season, while the Broncos own a record of 0-2-0.
"It was a great start for us," said head coach Damon Rensing. "You never know with soccer, but I expected us to put this type of performance and the reason is because this is how we've been playing all preseason. Even though we haven't gotten the goals, we expected to play with this type of mentality. Our two center backs, Kevin Cope and (Ryan) Keener really set the tone and mentality. It's hard not to single anybody out, because everyone played well. We scored goals through soccer. We scored goals through just athleticism and through restarts. Those three things all came into play and that's how you're going to have to beat teams. It was big to get that second goal before the halftime from the restart. My assistant Kylie (Stannard) does a great job of organizing the restarts and that's huge to go in 2-0 at halftime."
The Spartans kicked off the first half with continued pressure from Tim Kreutz and Jay Chapman, while serves infield from Ryan Thelen created several MSU opportunities. A pass from Chapman deflected by the keeper was shot in by Adam Montague to score the first goal of 2013 in the sixth minute of the game.
Just before the end of the half, a MSU free kick from Sean Conerty led to a loose ball in front of the net. After some deflection by the Western keeper, Kevin Cope buried it in the net in the 42nd minute to put the Spartans up 2-0 heading into halftime.
Starting in the game as a true freshman, Dewey Lewis helped MSU in creating chances for the entirety of the game before he was able to score his first career points as a Spartan. Lewis stole the ball away from a Bronco defender and beat the keeper to earn an unassisted goal.
"We had a couple of guys injured and we gave the young man a start," Rensing said. "Giving credit to Dewey, he took advantage of it. He's got some good pace and he didn't panic when he got into the final third. That's why he was Mr. Soccer."
A shot from Conerty slipped just past the Western Michigan goalkeeper in the 67th-minute to put the Spartans up 4-0 over the Broncos.
"It was good to be able to get a lot of players minutes," said Rensing. "I thought all four of our wide mid played well. Jerome Cristobal gave us energy, Sean Conerty, Brent McIntosh and I thought Jay Chapman was very good. He poses a strength for us and he does a lot for us that maybe the common person doesn't see, but he's very soccer savvy and he was special today."
Starting in goal, Zach Bennett earned his first shutout of the season, the 10th of his career. Bennett was assisted by aggressive defensive play on the back line by Cope and Keener, who kept the ball forced downfield. Cope cleared out a late attempt from Western Michigan to hold onto the shutout. With the rest of the back line, the Spartans were able to hold the Broncos to just five shots, zero on-goal. A total of 15 Spartans made an appearance in the Spartan's collective victory.
The Spartans will be back in action for a weekend series beginning with Oregon State on Friday, Sept. 6 at 5 p.m., followed by a matchup with Valparaiso on Sunday, Sept. 8 at 1 p.m.