The players on the MSU men’s soccer team have a hard time believing they are winless in the Big Ten.
The Spartans lost both of their first two conference games by a score of 1-0, with the first loss coming to Ohio State and the second against Penn State.
The team had a handful of scoring chances in both defeats, yet wasn’t able to find an equalizer.
“It doesn’t feel like we are an 0-2 team at all,” said sophomore forward Rubin Bega, who leads the team with seven goals.
“We’ve been playing good soccer, but in a lot of the games we haven’t had the bounces to go our way. That’s just soccer sometimes. We don’t expect to win all 18 games. But hopefully we start picking it up and start getting some wins in the Big Ten.”
The Spartans (6-3-1 overall, 0-2-0 Big Ten) will play their first road conference game Sunday against Wisconsin, another winless team in the Big Ten.
MSU head coach Damon Rensing isn’t too worried about playing away from home, as the team already has played five games on the road and posted a record of 3-1-1 away from East Lansing.
“It’s always tough to win on the road in the Big Ten,” Rensing said.
“But we’ve got a lot of guys who are used to playing in tough environments. Wisconsin is going to be very hungry and so are we. It’s going to be a battle.”
In Wisconsin’s nine games this season, they have allowed a conference-worst 14 goals, compared to MSU’s conference-best five goals allowed in 10 games. The Badgers also have only scored five goals, while the Spartans have scored 16 goals.
Although the stats might point to an MSU victory, junior midfielder Jeff Ricondo said any team in the Big Ten is capable of winning on any given day.
“We know we have to come out and come at them hard,” Ricondo said.
“They are going to be a good team and we just have to make sure we are prepared and ready for them.”
Sophomore forward Domenic Barone is out for two to four weeks, Rensing said Wednesday.
Barone injured his knee during Sunday’s game against Penn State on a fluky play where his legs became tangled under him.
“We don’t think it’s season-ending,” Rensing said. “But it’s a hard injury to guess how long he’s going to be out. Domenic is a good player on this team, and it makes us a little bit thinner when we lose a player like him.”
Barone had two goals and three assists in nine games for the Spartans this season and was the Spartans’ starting right forward.
With Domenic Barone out of the lineup, his twin brother, sophomore forward Mark Barone, is expected to see more playing time.
Ricondo also is a candidate to move up into the striker position. In Wednesday’s 2-0 victory over Western Michigan, he started the game at forward and recorded two assists.
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“I haven’t played up there in a long time,” Ricondo said. “But it’s nothing too new. It’s just a opportunity that hopefully will help the team out a little bit.”
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