Sunday, April 21, 2024

Kickers advance in tourney

November 10, 2000
Freshman midfielder John Minagawa-Webster kicks the ball for a goal against Northwestern goalkeeper Chris Berlin during the second half Thursday at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. —

COLUMBUS, Ohio - The MSU men’s soccer team opened the Big Ten Tournament with a 6-0 first-round shutout over Northwestern on Thursday at Ohio State’s Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.

The win advances the kickers to a second-round match against Penn State at 2:30 p.m. today.

The No. 2-seeded Spartans shelled the No. 7-seeded Wildcats offensively - with five of six goals coming off the feet of freshmen.

“That was something else,” freshman midfielder Jeffrey Krass said. “There could be a good future for us, our first Big Ten Tournament game and pretty much all the goals come from freshmen. You can’t ask for much more.”

MSU head coach Joe Baum said he not only didn’t think the team would generate as much offense as they did, but he didn’t expect it to come from its youngest members.

“I almost think that these freshmen aren’t freshmen anymore,” Baum said. “At this point in the year they’re almost like sophomores. They don’t seem nervous, they don’t seem tight. I just think that this season has finally got them to the point where they just come and play soccer.”

Two days before the game Krass said he was nervous but thought he would be able to turn those nerves into energy for the game. And he didn’t waste any time converting those nerves, scoring the game’s first goal at the 7:28 mark in the first half.

“Once we got out onto the field and got a few shots in that was pretty much all (we needed to get going),” Krass said. “We played well and it didn’t take me long actually.”

Toward the end of the first half, junior defender Scott Babinski headed a corner kick to freshman forward Mike Trivelloni who was able to sneak a shot past Wildcat goalkeeper Chris Berlin.

MSU’s freshmen continued to get the job done offensively in the second half when Krass hooked up with freshman midfielder John Minigawa-Webster at the 50:05 mark. Webster was able to get another goal nine minutes later - putting an end to Northwestern’s hopes of a comeback.

Minigawa-Webster said, like Krass, he was able to settle his nerves, but he will be even more nervous today when the team looks to continue its run in the tournament.

“The first couple minutes the nervous energy wasn’t exactly good but after that it was perfect,” Minigawa-Webster said. “There’s no way I’ll be settled down (for the Penn State game) but I’ll be able to play my game and everyone else will.”

The Spartans (11-5-2 overall, 5-1-1 in the Big Ten) beat Penn State (11-5-2, 3-2-1), the No. 3 seed in the tournament, in the regular season, 2-0.

The Spartans were forced to play 10 men to the Nittany Lions’ 11 in the final 20 minutes of that game after being handed a red card.

MSU senior goalkeeper and co-captain T.J. Lieckfelt, who shared the shutout with sophomore Mike Robinson for a combined four saves, said MSU has to get ready for a battle against Penn State.

“It’s pretty much going to be a war, so we’re just going to have to get mentally ready for a battle,” Lieckfelt said. “We just have to get ready for a tough hard-fought game.”

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