Spartans Fall in Big Ten Tournament, 2-1
Nov. 11, 2010
East Lansing, Mich. - The Michigan State soccer team saw archrival Michigan score two goals in the final 30 minutes of play to post a 2-1 victory over the Spartans in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament at Penn State. The Spartans fall to 11-7-1 overall, and now must wait until the NCAA Selection show on Monday afternoon to learn their national tournament fate.
The game was physical and spirited throughout - the teams combined for seven yellow cards (two to the Spartans, and five against the Wolverines, including a red card for forward Justin Meram). The game-winner for the Wolverines came in the 77th minute, as Soony Saad converted a free kick from 18 yards out. It was the freshman's 16th goal of the season. "I thought we played a really good first half, but we had a goal called back - I think it was the right call, too - but between that and not finishing on a couple of good chances, we ended up with not much to show for it," said head coach Damon Rensing. "In the second half, going up a man almost worked against us, because we probably didn't play with the same urgency, and we never settled into a good rhythm. We didn't have very many chances after that red card."
Michigan countered with the equalizer in the 61st minute. Justin Meram got the marker for the Wolverines on a shot from outside the 18. Meram's celebration was short-lived, however, as he picked up his second yellow card - and ensuing red card - for taunting the MSU bench after his score. The red card ended Meram's afternoon, and put the Spartans up a man for the final 20 minutes.
Unfortunately, the man advantage did not work in favor of the Spartans, who had trouble establishing much flow. The backbreaker came in the 77th minute, leaving the Spartans to chase in the final 13 minutes of play. MSU could not gain the equalizer, and as a result were finished in the Big Ten tournament in the first round for the first time in three seasons.
MSU will now await the NCAA Selection show, which will air at 4 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 15. "I think we are in pretty good shape, but its always a situation where you can't breathe easy until you see your name on the screen," said Rensing.
The Spartans will rely on their impressive strength of schedule and high RPI rating - they were 12 in the most recent rankings released earlier this week. MSU has several signature victories this season, including two against the RPI top seven, both on the road (No. 4 Maryland and No. 7 Notre Dame). All seven of MSU's losses this season came to teams in the current RPI top 26.
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