Spartans determined to finish on winning note as postseason approaches
Sophomore defenseman Ryan Keener and Wisconsin defenseman Blake Succa jockey for possession of the ball during a game Oct. 21, 2012, at DeMartin Stadium at Old College Field. The Spartans won 2-0, causing the Badgers to fall to 5-7-3, 1-3-0 Big Ten. Julia Nagy/The State News
With an NCAA Tournament bid lingering ahead of them, members of the MSU men’s soccer team (7-7-1, 2-2-0 Big Ten) are gearing up for the tail end of the season and determined to turn the season into a winning one.
The Spartans are coming off of two wins, one over Oakland 1-0 on the road and another 2-0 over Wisconsin at home. After defeating Wisconsin, MSU’s Big Ten record was brought up to an even .500.
Now, MSU will take on Indiana at DeMartin Stadium at Old College Field at 1 p.m. on Sunday.
With MSU only looking at three more games until the Big Ten Tournament, every game is a must-win for the team.
“We’ve got a couple shutouts, which is back to the Michigan State way,” junior defender Kevin Cope said. “I think the whole team has fed off that. If we don’t give up goals, we’re not going to lose. We’re creating enough changes, which we have been all season — we just haven’t been able to put them away, and we’re starting to. Hopefully, this streak can continue.”
Senior forward Domenic Barone also agrees with Cope that the shutout wins are the number one thing he’s taken out of the past few games.
Freshman goalkeeper Zach Bennett has appeared in the past five games for MSU, and Barone said getting Bennett in net at such a young stage has proved beneficial for the Spartans.
After the Wisconsin game on Oct. 21, head coach Damon Rensing said the shutouts have said a lot about his team, but so has his players’ ability to create quality chances and get the ball in the net.
“(We’re) finally clicking and creating opportunities,” Barone said. “(We’re) not only getting goals, but we’ve been a lot more dangerous and just had double the opportunities that we were creating at the beginning of the year.”
Despite how high the players’ confidence might be, Indiana will prove to be a tough competitor on Sunday.
The Hoosiers currently are 11-3-2 overall and 3-1-0 in the Big Ten. They sit at No. 16 in the NSCAA Coaches poll and No. 7 in NCAA men’s soccer RPI.
“It’s huge — we know it is,” Cope said of the upcoming game. “We’re .500 … and we have three games left. If we can start off on a high note, it’s just going to get easier from there. It’s important for us, and we’ve played well against them in the past. Hopefully being at home, we can do the same.”