The next game is the biggest game of the year.
That’s the new motto for the MSU men’s soccer team (3-1-0) heading into a showdown with Bowling Green (1-2-2) at 5 p.m. Wednesday evening at DeMartin Stadium.
“We want to show some consistency,” head coach Damon Rensing said. “If you want to talk about the NCAA Tournament and getting to it, you’ve got to win the games that you need to win. We’re at home and we expect to win the games that we play at home. It will be very tough, but that’s why this will be the biggest game of the year.”
The Spartans are coming off an impressive 2-0 win to Maquette Sunday evening. The Golden Eagles beat Bowling Green 3-0 on Sept. 6.
The last time MSU had a good win, a 1-0 victory against Oregon State on Sept. 6, it was immediately followed by a bad loss two days later in a 2-1 defeat to Valparaiso.
“You’ve got to take it one game at a time and you’ve got to recover well,” sophomore midfielder Sean Conerty said. “The last time we came off a good win, we didn’t have a good game. We’ve got to bring it to them from the get-go.”
MSU boasts an 18-16-6 all-time record over the Falcons, including winning 10 of the last 11 meetings. The Spartans came away with a 2-1 win in Bowling Green, Ohio a season ago.
Sophomore goalkeeper Zach Bennett, who’s coming off Big Ten Conference Defensive Player of the Week honors, emphasized that the team can’t look past Bowling Green after a solid win against Marquette.
“We were acting like we were going to (win) against Valpo, but most of the team was mentally not there,” Bennett said. “We’re really trying to emphasize that with the whole team and make sure everyone’s focused.”
Six players have scored for the Falcons, and three are tied atop their rankings with three points apiece, but senior forward Anthony Grant leads the team with 23 shots, 11 shots on goal, one goal and one assist.
Despite the lackluster record, Bowling Green has a pair of quality results with double overtime draws against Michigan and Ohio State, a fact Rensing said the Spartans can’t afford to overlook.
MSU won’t return to action until a Tuesday matchup against No. 5 Creighton in Omaha, Neb. on Sept. 24 at 7 p.m.
Conerty said the five days after the match against the Falcons will be a much needed break, but he is still focused on the game at hand.
“We’re going to come out and play the way we play,” Conerty said. “We’ll adjust to some of the things we know they have, but from the get-go we’re going to do what we do, which is work hard.”