Following an opening weekend in which an exhilarating high was quickly followed by a humbling low, the No. 23 MSU men’s soccer team said it has learned what it takes to be one of the top teams in the nation.
The Spartans will look to take last weekend’s lessons forward as they welcome Providence (1-0-1) for the team’s home opener, which is set for 5 p.m. Thursday at DeMartin Stadium at Old College Field.
“We haven’t really prepared for (Providence) specifically yet, but we can compete (with) or lose against anyone,” junior midfielder Brent Rosendall said.
The Spartans (1-1) split the two games on their East Coast road trip, winning 4-3 in overtime at then-No. 6 Maryland before losing 4-0 to Georgetown two days later.
Although the victory at Maryland was an exciting way to open the season, the quick turnaround and subsequent loss to Georgetown was stressful and a lesson to be learned for the rest of the season, Rosendall said.
“The win was amazing, the way we performed as a team,” he said. “Our emotions, it was so emotionally draining. It took a toll and we went into (Georgetown) too confident. It was more of a one-goal type of game, but they ended up punishing us for the way we played.”
The seven goals the Spartans gave up in the first two games weren’t necessarily the result of poor defense, senior goalkeeper Avery Steinlage said.
“As a team, we played a little too loose against a great Georgetown team,” Steinlage said. “And Maryland is a great team, and high-scoring games are going to happen against a fast-paced team like that.”
Steinlage, who broke the NCAA shutout streak record last season without allowing a goal for 1,318 minutes, isn’t used to being scored on so frequently, but said the team likely won’t change anything strategically.
“We just had a quick turnaround from an emotionally draining game,” Steinlage said.
“We’re not going to change anything, we’re just going to try and put the weekend behind us.”
The Friars are a team similar to Georgetown, Rosendall said.
“They’re in the Big East, so they’ll be good,” he said.
Last weekend, Providence won the Ocean State Classic with a penalty kick shootout win against Brown — which counts as a draw in the season standings.
Prior to the Brown game, the Friars defeated Rhode Island 2-1.
The Spartans likely will try to tighten up the game plan already in place — the looseness was a probable culprit in the seven goals during the opening weekend, senior midfielder and co-captian Spencer Thompson said.
“We just need to be better in transition, both offense and defense, stay together and more compact as a team and that should help limit the goals,” Thompson said.
The Providence game opens up a three-game home stand at DeMartin, with games against Niagara (0-1) on Sunday and Marquette (0-1-1) on Sept. 17.
The Spartans host Niagara at 2:30 p.m. Sunday as part of a doubleheader with the MSU women’s soccer team, which will host Loyola Chicago at noon.
Niagara lost to Cleveland State, 2-1, last week and will travel to Western Michigan for a game Friday before arriving in East Lansing.
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Thompson hopes fans
continue solid support from last year.
“We’re hoping we can get a good crowd out,” he said. “And hopefully we can come back out and perform well.”
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