May 3, 2012
EAST LANSING, Mich. -- - The Michigan State University men's soccer team finished the second half of their 2012 spring exhibition campaign with a 2-1 record in the final three weeks. The Spartans dropped a 1-0 decision against the Michigan, but followed that result up with a road victory over Western Michigan, 1-0. MSU finished the campaign with a 3-2 victory over Butler, and the Spartans were 5-2 in spring exhibition games overall.
On March 31st the men's soccer team traveled to Pontiac, Michigan to take part in the Michigan Bucks' College Challenge at Ultimate Soccer Arenas. In the game against the archrival Wolverines, both teams provided tough defense and offensive chances were at premium. The best chance of the entire first half for either squad came from a superb individual effort from MSU freshman All-American Adam Montague. The forward received the ball 25 yards away from goal, split two Wolverine defenders, and unleashed a cracking shot headed for the far upper corner. Michigan goalkeeper Adam Grinwis was there to corral the ball and keep the game scoreless headed into halftime.
The second half was a different story as the Spartans ramped up their pressure. After conceding a set piece goal just six minutes into the second half, the Spartans unleashed 11 second-half shots. The Spartans were unable to find the back of the net despite Montague, junior Nick Wilson, and junior Tyler White all supplying great efforts. Redshirt junior Bryce Dobbins played the first 62 minutes in goal before making way for freshman Quinn McAnaney.
"The game vs. Michigan always brings out a higher intensity, regardless of when it is played," said head coach Damon Rensing. "This gave us a good environment to evaluate some players. We showed some good moments and created some good opportunities. At the end of the day, we needed to finish a couple chances and defend the restart better. That was the difference."
On Friday, April 6, the Spartans took on the Broncos of Western Michigan at Waldo Stadium in Kalamazoo. In yet another defensive game, the Spartans managed an 82nd minute marker from the foot of freshman All-Big Ten performer Fatai Alashe. After freshman transfer Ben Myers sprayed the ball wide, Tyler White did a marvelous job of sliding to keep the ball in play. White whipped in a near- post cross to the front of the six yard box, where freshman Nick DiRienzo used a dazzling display of skill to flick the ball on for the onrushing Alashe. Alashe was spot-on from just six yards out, pounding the ball past the Bronco goalkeeper for the 1-0 advantage. The Spartans limited the Broncos to just three shots on goal in the game, and held on for the one-goal victory. The backline of Tyler White, Kevin Cope, Ryan Keener and Wesley Curtis did a wonderful job on the day, shutting down the Western Michigan attack. January enrollee Zach Bennett and McAnaney split time evenly in goal for the Spartans to combine for the shutout - the second of the spring for MSU.
"We really focused on leadership going into this game. We knew that our game vs. WMU could be similar to a few fall games," admitted Rensing. "I thought our leaders stepped up in this game. They persevered and got a well-deserved win. It is always good for our defense and keepers to get a shutout as well."
On Friday, April 20th the Spartans completed their spring season with a strong 3-2 victory over Horizon League entry Butler in a game played in Fort Wayne, IN. The Spartans started very well with extended minutes of prolonged possession. MSU's first great chance came when Alashe slotted sophomore Tim Kreutz down the right wing, and Kreutz went by the Bulldogs' left back. Kreutz provided a great near-post cross, but it was cleared away from danger.
Michigan State would not be denied in the 25th minute on an impressive goal from Alashe. Montague held up a throw in and slotted it back to classmate Blake Skamiera. Skamiera turned away from pressure and laid a ball off to sophomore Wesley Curtis, who quickly slid the ball over to Alashe 30 yards from goal. Alashe beat two Butler defenders before curling the ball into the upper right corner. Butler was able to cut into the lead when the Bulldogs got on the scoreboard just before the stroke of halftime on a far-post finish from Austin Oldham in the 43rd minute.
As the rain poured down heavier in the second half, the Spartans increased the pressure. Kreutz provided plenty of problems for the Butler defenders down the right wing and notched his first goal of the spring season in the 61st minute. Montague missed a great chance just moments later from 15 yards away after another great build up and individual effort from Kreutz. Skamiera tallied the Spartans' third goal of the match on a breakaway in the 69th minute. Adam Montague flicked the ball on, and Skamiera dribbled 60 yards before neatly slotting the ball home to the far post with his left foot. The Bulldogs cut the lead to one in the 81st minute on a tidy finish from Tyler Pollock, but would not get any closer as the Spartans held on for a 3-2 victory. Freshmen Quinn McAnaney and Zach Bennett spit time evenly in goal for the Spartans to preserve the win.
"Butler is a well- coached team. Paul Snape does a good job and I think they will be pushing for their conference title next year. Despite the weather conditions I thought both teams played well at a high pace. We created three goals, which is always good. I thought we had some good possession and ball movement at times. It is great to end spring with a win. The guys should feel good about where we are at heading into the fall."
The Spartans finished the spring season with a 5-2 overall record and some great individual and team performances. Montague led the Spartans with five goals and two assists in spring contests.
Michigan State will break for the summer and return for preseason camp in early August.