Nov. 3, 2012
ANN ARBOR, Mich. - - The Michigan State men's soccer team (8-9-1, 3-3-0 B1G) fell on Saturday evening at Michigan, 1-0 the final regular-season match for both teams. The game's lone goal came off a corner kick in the 70th minute to put Michigan on the board.
The loss denied the Spartans the Big Ten title, as a victory would have catapulted the Spartans over Penn State and Northwestern, who shared the regular-season title as a result of the MSU loss.
"It was a typical rivalry game," said head coach Damon Rensing. "Michigan was at home and they had the crowd behind them. They came out flying and put some pressure on us. It took us a little while to calm down and play, but the last 15 minutes we did a good job. It was an aggressive first half. We created a lot of opportunities; these are two pretty even programs. We knew we were going to have to come in and play well. We entered the second half 0-0 and we made some changes. Credit to their program, they made the plays and we didn't. Usually, these types of games come down to one or two plays. They made them and unfortunately we didn't."
The match was aggressive from the start, and both teams were held to a scoreless first half. With a high-intensity atmosphere and raucous home crowd, there were 17 fouls, (10 against MSU), just in the first half. The Wolverines outshot MSU 13-9, but held just a slight edge in shots on goal 5-3.
The second half opened up with Michigan State putting a lot more pressure on the Wolverines, picking up on the defense.
Freshman goalkeeper Zach Bennett was throughout, but gave up just his third goal of the season as Michigan defender Kofi Opare headed in a goal of a corner kick at the 70th minute. That would be all the home team would need to reclaim the Big Bear Trophy, which is awarded annually to the victor in this matchup.
Two dangerous corner kicks set-up opportunities for the Spartans at the 77th minute, but were kept out of goal by the Michigan keeper Adam Grinwis, who had five key saves in the game.
Both teams remained chippy in the second half as both senior Nick Wilson and redshirt sophomore Tim Kreutz picked up yellow cards with six and two minutes left in the game, respectively.
The Spartans had the majority of their chances late in the second half; sophomore midfielder Fatai Alashe took a shot at the 85th minute, Wilson had an open shot that was saved with two minutes left, and again at the 89th minute.
Michigan State will play in the Big Ten tournament next weekend hosted by Northwestern. First-round play begins Wednesday in Evanston, with the semifinals on Friday (1/3:30 p.m. ET) on the Big Ten Network. Sunday's final will be at 1 p.m. ET.