Nov. 1, 2013
EAST LANSING, Mich. - In its sixth double-overtime game of the season, the No. 22 Michigan State men's soccer team edged defending NCAA champion Indiana, 3-2 in Bloomington on Friday evening. Tim Kreutz scored his third game-winning goal of the season to earn the Spartans' third-straight win over the Hoosiers. MSU now owns a 9-3-3 (2-2-1) record after the final road match of the season, while the Hoosiers are 5-11-1 (1-4-0) on the season.
"First of all, I thought this was a great high-level college soccer game tonight," said head coach Damon Rensing. "Both teams did some very good things and that's why you see a 3-2 score. We knew that it was their Senior Night and that Indiana's a talented team. I don't think anyone wants to play them in the Big Ten Tournament.
"We talked the last two days about staying committed to win the game; that there's going to be ebbs and flows in the game, but we needed to stay committed. I thought out guys did a very good job of that. We challenged the character of the team a little bit after the Wisconsin game on the road. I thought we combined some very tough character and mental toughness with some very good soccer. When we do that, we can be a dangerous team. I think the other thing is that we've only lossed one game on the road this year. When you start to look at the Big Ten Tournament and potentially, a NCAA tournament, you might have to win games on the road. This team is battle-tested in tough environments - at Akron, at Indiana, at Northwestern, at Creighton - and they've responded. I think they should feel confident as we start to get closer to post-season play."
Michigan State kicked off its final road match of the season with a bang. In his first start of the year, Kyle Rutz connected on a cross from Tim Kreutz to earn his first goal of the season of a header, just four minutes into the game. Rutz's fourth career goal gave the Spartans an early 1-0 lead.
"We talked about that with Adam (Montague) going down that we're going to need players to step up and I thought Rutz did it," Rensing said. "Obviously, he scored a nice goal with his head, but he did a lot of other things. He held the ball up and worked hard defensively; so he was good, he was very good tonight."
The Hoosiers quickly answered as Nikita Kotlov scored the equalizer just four minutes later from 20 yards out. MSU's defense responded to an onslaught of shots from Indiana with Kevin Cope stepping up to make some big blocks for the Spartans. Sean Conerty attempted to regain the lead, sending in a target from 25 yards out that was tipped over the bar by the Hoosier keeper.
Both teams shared possession throughout the second half, creating chances on either side of the field. Cope and the Spartan defense continued to clear out dangerous opportunities for Indiana, however A.J. Corrado sent one into the lower right to tie the score in the 81st minute and send the game into overtime.
Though Indiana outshot the Spartans in each period of regulation, including 10-5 in the first half and 10-3 in the second, MSU responded in overtime to even the chances. Michigan State stepped up in the 107th minute when Ryan Thelen sent in a corner kick that Ryan Keener passed over to Kreutz who dribbled it in for his third game-winning goal of the season. The eighth goal Kreutz has scored this season, 10th of his career, solidified a 3-2 victory for the Spartans.
"We knew we were going to be tested," said Rensing. "We just had to stay positive or respond and to their credit, we went up twice and they answered with some very good goals. But our guys didn't get flustered. I don't think there was ever a doubt that we could win the game. I thought some chances in overtime were pretty even. We took advantage of a corner kick that was a good build up to create the corner kick."
In goal, Zach Bennett made seven saves in the game. He improved his goals against average to 0.74 with a .867 Sv%.
Wesley Curtis made his first appearance on the pitch for the Spartans this season.
Michigan State will be back in action as the Spartans welcome Notre Dame to DeMartin Stadium on Tuesday at 3 p.m. ET. The match will be broadcast live on the Big Ten Network. For live stats, go to MSUSpartans.com and follow @MSUMSoccer for play-by-play updates.