Adversity is bound to happen to any team during the course of a season; most just hope the issues don’t come at the most important time of the season.
With games against Michigan (8-4-3 overall, 2-2 Big Ten) and No. 1 Akron (13-0-1) next week, and the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments looming in the near future, the No. 16 MSU men’s soccer team (11-4, 2-3) has accumulated various injuries.
However, the team can rest up all week before Saturday’s tilt at Michigan.
“We’re hitting the injury bug right now,” head coach Damon Rensing said. “This week will be good for us, much needed.”
The rest is needed if MSU expects to return to full strength after losing three of four starters on defense in Sunday’s 3-0 loss to Indiana (8-4-2, 3-0-1). Coming into the game, the Spartans already were without two senior starters — defender Nosa Iyoha and midfielder Jeff Ricondo.
Although three defenders — sophomore Kevin Cope, junior Mark Barone and senior Jake Fullerton — were forced to leave the game, there is hope they won’t have lengthy stints on the bench, Rensing said.
“We just need to get healthy,” he said. “When we’re healthy and have players in the right position we’re a good team.”
Injuries come and go throughout the season and allow the season to go a variety of ways, Indiana head coach Todd Yeagley said.
“We’ve been pretty fortunate, we’ve got some nicks,” Yeagley said. “Certainly MSU does have some guys out and the injuries they took (Sunday) really affected their play. Playing teams when we’re healthy and the other teams aren’t, you have to take advantage of that and (Sunday) we did.”
MSU appeared to struggle with some of the changes made in the middle of the game because of the injuries, but the substitutions are not an acceptable reason for the loss, senior goalie Avery Steinlage said.
“It’s no excuse, you have to keep playing,” he said. “It changes a lot of things all the way through the whole lineup (and) we’re proud of the kids that came in.”
The team was playing to stay in contention for a Big Ten regular-season title, a task now impossible with three conference losses and just one Big Ten game remaining. Rensing said there still are bigger and better things to accomplish.
“(Our Big Ten chances are) about done,” Rensing said. “But hey, we’re No. 7 in the RPI, we have a lot of things to play for, we want to be one of those 48 teams on the roster in the NCAA Tournament and then anything can happen.”
MSU has three regular-season games left before traveling to State College, Penn., to play in the Big Ten Tournament. Michigan poses the last conference challenge. Akron — which beat Michigan, 7-1 — will be the Spartans’ last home game Nov. 3, before heading to Milwaukee to face Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Nov. 6.
The struggles with injuries are just a side effect of playing a season of games, Rensing said.
“Teams go through adversity and we’ve got some adversity here,” he said. “So we’re going to see what this team is made of and I feel pretty good about how they’re going to come out against Michigan.”
Do you want the news without having to hunt for it?
Sign up for our morning s'newsletter. It's everything your friends are talking about and then some. And it's free!
Share and discuss “Men's soccer gashed with injuries with 3 games remaining” on social media.