Nov. 7, 2012
East Lansing, Mich. -- - In a game that was a tight defensive battle throughout, the Michigan State men's soccer team downed No. 21 Indiana, 2-1, in the quarterfinals of the 2012 Big Ten men's soccer tournament. The Spartans, now 9-9-1 overall, advance to Friday's semifinal to take on No. 1 seed Penn State. Adam Montague and Ryan Keener were the goal scorers for the Spartans.
MSU advances to the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament for the first time since 2009. MSU is now 3-4 against IU in the Big Ten Tournament, and 10-9 (and 1-1 against Indiana) in the quarterfinal round. Last year, the Spartans were dismissed from the Tournament via a 2-1 loss to Indiana.
"I thought we came out strong and organized, and scored a great goal early, and created more dangerous chances in first half," said head coach Damon Rensing after the game. "In the second, Indiana came out with good intensity and I thought we managed it pretty well.
"I really thought that our center backs - Ryan Keener and Kevin Cope were exceptional today, as was our whole back line, and I really think that Fatai Alashe was outstanding for us, " continued Rensing. "I really want to give a lot of credit to our team for the way they came out today and handled their business. We had a really emotional loss at Michigan on Saturday, and in a short turnaround, our players really did a nice job of preparing themselves for a good IU team and focusing on the task at hand."
The Spartans were focused from the opening whistle, locking down on Indiana's dangerous offense and limiting their chances in their final third. An absolutely stifling effort from MSU's back line - centerbacks Kevin Cope and Keener, and outside backs Luke Norman and Ryan Thelen - limited the Hoosiers to just two shots on goal on the afternoon.
The Spartans were opportunistic and set an early tone when they jumped on the board in the fourth minute. Sean Conerty sent a through ball from the midfield up to Nick Wilson, who stopped it and left it for Adam Montague - he stepped up and fired it from 25 yards to the right corner of the net.
The teams battled for long stretches, but the Spartan defense did a nice job of frustrating the dangerous players Indiana has up front. Similar to the regular-season game between the teams, the Spartans had the better of the offensive chances on the day.
Ryan Keener provided the Spartans an insurance tally in the 77th minute. Off a Ryan Thelen insertion on the corner kick, Keener settled the ball inside the box and sent a nice half-volley past Soffner, his first marker of the season.
The Hoosiers pulled within a goal with six minutes to play, converting off a corner kick. Kaleb Konstanski settled the ball 10 yards out on the right side, and sent a shot netward which Nikita Kotlov tapped home on the doorstep to break up the shutout. IU's bid for the equalizer with 43 seconds remaining - a shot by the Big Ten's leading goal scorer, Eriq Zavaleta, was deflected wide, setting up an IU corner kick as the seconds ticked off the clock. The ball was safely deflected out of harm's way, allowing the clock to expire on a Spartan victory that allowed them to advance to the semifinals on Friday.
MSU outscored Indiana 5-2 in the two meetings of the teams in 2012. This marks just the second time in MSU program history that it has defeated Indiana twice in one season - the other was 2008, when MSU captured both the Big Ten regular-season and tournament titles.
The Spartans will advance to play No. 1 seed Penn State on Friday afternoon at 1 p.m. Eastern. PSU, which shared the regular-season title with Northwestern, emerged with a 2-1 victory in the regular-season meeting of the teams. Friday's semifinal matches will air live on the Big Ten Network.