No. 9 Spartan Soccer Blanks Northwestern, 2-0
MSU uses pair of second-half goals to put away NU for 10th clean sheet of season.
EVANSTON, Ill. - Behind a pair of second-half goals from Michael Pimlott and Ryan Sierakowski, No. 9 Michigan State men’s soccer defeated Northwestern, 2-0, in a Big Ten Conference soccer match at Northwestern’s Lanny and Sharon Martin Stadium.
MSU Box Score vs. NU
Sophomore defender Pimlott netted the first goal of his Spartan career, while junior forward Sierakowski tallied his sixth goal of the season.
The Spartan defense, anchored by junior goalkeeper Jimmy Hague, posted its 10th clean sheet of the season, including fourth in B1G play, as Michigan State improved its overall record to 11-2-2 and a 5-0-2 B1G ledger. Northwestern is now 5-10 overall and 1-6 in B1G action. Friday’s win improves MSU’s record against NU to 32-7-4, including 11-5-3 at Evanston and the Spartans are 4-1-1 in the last six meetings with the Wildcats.
Also with the win, Michigan State remains unbeaten in five of its last six matches, heading into the final week of the regular season with a pair of top 15 match-ups at home at DeMartin Stadium. The Spartans will tangle with No. 12 Notre Dame on Tuesday, Oct. 24 before a B1G showdown with No. 1 Indiana on Sunday, Oct. 29.
MSU’s five B1G wins ties a school record for most conference wins, matching the 2016 and 2008 squads. The win helps the Spartans keep pace in the league standings with Maryland (5-0-2) and Indiana (4-0-2), and MSU can set a new school record and clinch at least a share of the B1G title facing Indiana in the regular-season finale on Sunday.
“I’m happy for our guys. We’ve created an opportunity now where we’ve got a match-up with a tough Notre Dame team on Tuesday, and we also have a chance to play for a share of a Big Ten championship on Sunday,” MSU head coach Damon Rensing said.
Michigan State controlled the possession and pace for the majority of the first half, but were denied viable scoring chances by the Northwestern defense and the elements. It was a physical first 30 minutes of the match with a total of 13 fouls called in the first half with nine on NU and four on MSU.
The Spartans got a decent scoring chance in the 22nd minute with a free kick from just outside the box, but junior forward Hunter Barone’s free kick was blocked by the wall and cleared out. MSU’s best scoring chance of the first half came in the 33rd minute when Sierakowski had a shot just barely deflected on way to the goal and NU goalkeeper Francisco Tomasino made the save, keeping it scoreless at that point, which it remained for the rest of the first half.
MSU had an 8-4 shots advantage in the first half, with Tomasino making three saves, while Spartan netminder Hague didn’t make any.
“There was a decent, solid wind that we were against in the first half, so I thought we managed it pretty well. We got into some dangerous areas, but didn’t really get anything out of it, with some corner kicks and crosses, or shots, so that was a little frustrating, but all-in-all, going against the wind, on the road, against a spirited Northwestern team, wasn’t the worst thing to be 0-0 at half,” Rensing said.
While not seeing much action in the first 45 minutes, Hague was called into action early in the second half, making a sprawling save off a NU free kick from the top of the arc at the top of the box.
“Out of the half, Jimmy Hague made a great save to keep it 0-0,” Rensing said. “But then I thought about eight minutes into the second half, we kind of settled in and started to play, and kept pushing and pushing, and finally took a great goal from Michael Pimlott to unlock it. What a shot!”
Pimlott scored his first goal in the Green and White on a firecracker from the top of the box in the 77th minute, unleashing a laser that rocketed past Tomasino and into the upper left corner for a 1-0 Spartan advantage.
“We told the guys at halftime that you’ve got the wind at your back, let it go, and I think it was Marcantognini, who got the ball at the top of the box and made a good pass to Pimlott, who let it go. What a way to score your first collegiate goal,” Rensing said.
In the 87th minute, MSU doubled its lead, as junior forward DeJuan Jones dribbled around and through the defense and slotted a nice pass to Sierakowski, who buried the ball in the net.
“DeJuan was pretty dangerous most of the night and getting deep. He made a great run and made a very unselfish pass and what a great finish by Sierakowski,” Rensing said.
The Spartan backline held strong and resolute all night, limiting NU to just nine shots, with just four on goal, as Hague ended with four saves.
“Our defense is very good. Jimmy (Hague) was solid. We didn’t have Connor Corrigan, but I thought Robbie Cort came in and did a good job. (Jimmy) Fiscus and (Michael) Wetungu were their usual selves, and then I thought (John) Freitag adjusted well from playing right back to left back tonight,” Rensing said. “It feels good to get our 10th clean sheet. In these games, if you’re keeping clean sheets, even though we’re not lighting up the scoreboard, we know we have chance to win, and I know our guys knew that we might not give anything up, so they just kept pushing and were able to get it.”
MSU hosts 12th-ranked Notre Dame on Tuesday, Oct. 24 under the lights at DeMartin Stadium at 7 p.m., before the regular-season finale against No. 1 Indiana on Sunday, Oct. 29 at DeMartin at 3 p.m. For those fans who can’t make it to DeMartin in person, both matches will be nationally televised, with Tuesday’s match being televised on the Big Ten Network, while Sunday’s showdown is on ESPNU.