After three assists in the first three games, senior midfielder Spencer Thompson took the offense into his own hands in the No. 23 MSU men’s soccer team’s 4-1 win against Niagara on Sunday at DeMartin Stadium at Old College Field.
The co-captain scored twice and assisted on another goal, but Thompson said he never intended on taking over the scoring load.
“If the shot’s there, I’ll take it,” he said. “But for the most part I try to slot balls into players like (senior midfielder) Jeff Ricondo, (junior forward) Rubin Bega and (junior midfielder) Brent Rosendall.”
Following the MSU women’s soccer team’s 3-0 win over Loyola-Chicago earlier Sunday, the men’s team was able to finish up an undefeated weekend home stand with victories against Providence on Friday and Niagara, with eight goals and only one scored against. The goals are just coming where they fit, Thompson said.
“The pieces are falling where they have to and we’re just getting goals,” he said.
The first half opened with a conservative offensive game, which allowed the Spartans to capitalize on breakaways when Niagara’s offensive attempts failed.
Thompson opened the scoring in the 13th minute on a pass from junior midfielder Cyrus Saydee.
Thompson scored again with 15:39 left in the first half when his corner kick was tipped in past the goaltender. The corner came after the referees disallowed a goal that was deflected into the side of the net and back out by the Purple Eagle goalie.
The Spartans scored again in the 60th minute with a shot across the goal box by senior midfielder Jeff Ricondo on a pass from Thompson.
“I played a ball in and made a run down the line and Spencer was able to slot it through,” Ricondo said. “I bobbled it a little off my quad, but I shot it off the back post and it went in.”
Thompson’s play in the game was the catalyst to the large victory, head coach Damon Rensing said.
“Spencer was really sharp from kickoff,” Rensing said. “He got us playing really quickly there and I like to see him take responsibility.”
MSU went up 4-0 after a soft shot by Bega on a breakaway was kicked into the net off the post by a Niagara defender attempting to kick the ball out of the box.
Niagara did find its way on the scoreboard after a cross was netted past junior goalie Jeremy Clark by midfielder Rene De Zorzi in the 85th minute.
The defense has played well this season, despite a few missteps that have resulted in goals similar to the De Zorzi goal, Thompson said.
“Defense has let up a couple of goals,” he said. “But we’ll figure it out.”
The Spartans spent much of the last 15 minutes controlling the ball at midfield preventing the Purple Eagles from getting into an offensive rhythm.
Aside from a spectacular save by Clark on a shot by Niagara forward Brandon Wellington, the Purple Eagles had few real scoring chances besides their goal in the 85th minute.
The Spartans bombarded Niagara goaltenders with 21 shots, many of which could have found the net without some stellar saves.
Rensing said the team started and finished the game strong.
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“Saydee had a great game, I think we just take for granted (senior defender) Colin Givens and (sophomore defender) Kevin Cope back there, the two center backs,” he said. “It was good to see (senior defender) Jake Fullerton get a start and perform well. It was just a good performance all around.”
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