March 29, 2012
East Lansing, Mich. - Continuing a very rigorous spring schedule, the Michigan State men's soccer team split a pair of spring exhibition games in the past week. These spring exhibitions have allowed the men's soccer staff to see their returning players settle into some new roles, as well as some key players return from fall injuries as the team gets in its first work in advance of the 2012 season.
On Saturday, March 17th the Spartans traveled to Columbus, Ohio to face off against the Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer. The MLS side produced a lineup of mainly first-choice starters, and the Crew got on the board in the 4th minute from a deflected goal by Milo Mirosevic. The Crew would add four more goals before Adam Montague - a Freshman All-America this past fall - notched his second goal of the spring season with a stunning strike to the top right corner, past the stretched diving effort from MLS All-Star goalkeeper Will Hesmer. Redshirt junior goalkeeper Bryce Dobbins played the first 65 minutes of the match while freshman Quinn McAnaney performed well during the last 25 minutes.
"I first would like to thank the Columbus Crew for a great opportunity. They are a first-class organization, and that showed with how we were treated," said head coach Damon Rensing. "It was great to get a match against the Columbus Crew and have the opportunity to play against their first team for 90 minutes. I thought we did some things very well for long spells in the game. The Crew also exposed some weaknesses that we need to work on. The lessons learned in that match were invaluable. This environment was great as we continue to develop future pros here at Michigan State."
The Spartans bounced back quickly, facing off against in-state rival Detroit on Thursday, March 22nd in the Duffy Daugherty Indoor Football Building. The Spartans were out in front early as Montague tucked in a Tim Kreutz low cross in the ninth minute. Just five minutes later, Montague added a second score; Josh Barens' impressive individual effort saw him beat four Titan defenders before deftly sliding a neat pass to Montague for a first-time finish from 11 yards out.
Montague completed his hat trick in the 29th minute. The Spartan pressure resulted in a turnover near the Titan penalty area, and a great combination between Montague and sophomore Wesley Curtis resulted in a tidy left-footed finish to the far post past the Titan goalie. Montague now has five goals in three spring matches.
The second half was much of the same as the Spartans kept constant pressure with very good ball movement and possession. Freshman forward Blake Skamiera scored the final goal for the Spartans with a right-footed volley from 35 yards out after a neat pass from junior Nick Wilson. Dobbins kept a clean sheet in the first half and was replaced by early enrollee goalkeeper Zach Bennett. Both keepers were rarely tested but commanded the box well dealing with crosses and long throw-ins.
"I thought we had a complete performance against Detroit," noted Rensing. "Our possession, spacing, defensive pressure, and finishing were at a very good level. Adam showed why he was a Freshman All-American today. I thought it was equally important that our defense and goalkeepers held on to a shutout and defended well as a group for 90 minutes."
Michigan State will return to action this weekend, participating in the 2012 Challenge Cup in Pontiac, Michigan against another in-state foe, University of Michigan. Kick-off is set for 3:45 pm at Ultimate Soccer Arena. Tickets for the event are on sale and can be purchased HERE.
"Playing against Michigan will be a very good test for us. Anytime these two teams meet there seems to be a little more at stake - which gives us a better opportunity to evaluate where we are as a team and individually."