Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Spartans build momentum with victory

October 7, 2009

Sophomore forward Rubin Bega takes the ball past Western Michigan defender Yllson Asani on Wednesday evening at DeMartin Stadium at Old College Field. MSU beat the Broncos 2-0.

Photo by Sean Cook | The State News

In every game the MSU men’s soccer team has played, the team that has scored the first goal has gone on to win.

And that trend stayed true, as the Spartans defeated Western Michigan 2-0 on Wednesday DeMartin Stadium at Old College Field.

But it wasn’t easy, and it definitely wasn’t pretty.

The Spartans (6-3-1 overall, 0-2-0 Big Ten) play in the first half was littered with turnovers and defensive breakdowns.

“It was definitely an ugly game but we found a way to win,” junior defender Colin Givens said.

“There are always going to be games like that with midweek teams that are underdogs. They are going to want to come in here and try to prove themselves.”

For the second straight week, sophomore forward Rubin Bega tallied two goals in the midweek nonconference game. He leads the team with seven goals.

With a knee injury to starting sophomore forward Domenic Barone keeping him on the sidelines, junior midfielder Jeff Ricondo started the game up-top for the Spartans.

In the fourth minute, Bega and Ricondo worked the ball through the Western Michigan defense before Bega struck the ball into the corner of the net to give the Spartans the valuable first goal of the game.

“It was good to get that first goal, which takes a little bit of the pressure off our back,” Bega said.

“It was one of those games where you have to keep fighting because the bounces weren’t going our way.”

The Broncos had two golden opportunities to find the equalizer in the first 15 minutes of the game.

The Spartans were twice beaten to the ball on the back post, but were bailed out both times when the Western Michigan strikers’ missed their shots on each of the plays.

The second half started much the way the first half ended — with a break-neck pace and intense physical play.

Three minutes into the half, Ricondo took possession of the ball at midfield and dribbled through four Broncos’ defenders en route to the net.

But Ricondo’s final touch failed him, and Western Michigan’s goaltender came out and scooped up the ball.

The Broncos took four shots in the second half, none better than in the 62nd minute when Western Michigan played one of their six corners to the top of the 18-yard box.

Freshman midfielder Luis Lemus struck the ball with his first touch, but MSU sophomore goalkeeper Avery Steinlage was there to make the save and prevent the shutout.

Bega put the dagger in the Broncos’ chances of finding an equalizer in the 79th minute.

Ricondo sent a long ball down the left flank and Bega took the ball right in stride – walking in on Western Michigan’s goalkeeper and placing the ball in the bottom right side-netting.

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Although it wasn’t the prettiest of games, MSU head coach Damon Rensing said he was pleased to get a much-needed nonconference win, especially with the Spartans heading on the road to Wisconsin this weekend in search of their first conference victory.

“A win’s a win,” Rensing said. “You just aren’t going to come out and be sharp all the time with the ball. I thought our tired legs caught up with us, but we figured out a way to win.”

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