Oct. 26, 2011
East Lansing, Mich. - Coming off a pair of double-overtime deadlocks last week, the 2-1 victory for MSU men's soccer over Western Michigan on Wednesday was a welcome sight for the team. The Spartans are now 5-7-4 on the season, while Western falls to 5-11-1. MSU is now unbeaten in its last three games and is 3-1-2 in its last six games overall.
"We were coming off a really emotional game this past Sunday at Indiana, and sometimes it is hard to get re-focused for a midweek game against a non-conference opponent," said head coach Damon Rensing, who watched his team rally from a 2-0 deficit to tie the 13th-ranked Hoosiers on the road Sunday afternoon. "I was happy with our effort, and I thought it was really nice to get the result. It feels like maybe we're starting to build a bit of momentum, and our guys can feel good about that. Nothing comes easy in this game, so getting the result after hard work is much deserved."
The first great scoring chance of the game came in the 18th minute, as the Broncos lined up for a free kick just above the top of the box. The strike by Kai Mendes was punched high over the crossbar by Clark, preserving the scoreless tie.
In the 25th minute, the Spartans took a 1-0 lead. Adam Montague had taken a feed from Kyle Rutz and put a shot on net that keeper Sean Lewis got a hand on for a save. The ball came out into the box, where Rubin Bega fired it into the right side of the net for his third goal of the season.
The teams battled through most of the second half without a score, but two goals ended up on the board in the final three minutes of the game. It looked like Western had a great opportunity to tie the game with seven minutes remaining, and Jason Grant took the free kick from outside the box. Clark, who finished the day with three saves, got a hand on it to tip it out of harm's way.
Western continued to push in the waning minutes of regulation for an equalizer, but the Spartans were able to add a bit of insurance. In the 86th minute remaining in regulation, the Spartans got a second goal - off a pass from Adam Montague, Kyle Rutz potted his second goal of the season. Cyrus Saydee also assisted on the play, as he got it to Montague deep on the left side, and Montague slotted it for Rutz.
That insurance goal proved valuable. With 2:27 remaining in the game, Western Michigan broke up the shutout. Darren Jones carried the ball up the left side and centered it for Mendes, and Mendes' shot deflected off a defender in front and into the back of the net.
Western Michigan outshot the Spartans 10-8, with a 4-3 edge in shots on net, and a 6-5 edge in corners. MSU had 13 fouls compared to Western's five. The teams combined for a total of four yellow cards - Lito Esquivel, Darren Jones, and Pat Schiffer for WMU, and Wesley Curtis for the Spartans. All but Schiffer's card came in the first half.
The Spartans now focus on a showdown on Sunday afternoon against Michigan, the team's annual battle for the Big Bear Trophy. Admission is free for the game, which starts at noon and will also be televised live on the Big Ten Network.