Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Men's soccer prepared for matchup with No. 1 Akron

November 1, 2010

On Wednesday, the No. 23 MSU men’s soccer team will look to pounce on a No. 1 Akron team coming off its first loss of the season.

The teams will meet at 3 p.m. Wednesday at DeMartin Stadium at Old College Field.

The Spartans (11-5-0 overall, 2-4-0 Big Ten) lost, 2-1, on a late penalty kick when they traveled to Ohio for a game against the Zips last year, and will look to avenge the loss.

Akron (14-1-1) has reigned atop the polls all season, but suffered a 2-1 upset at Cleveland State on Saturday.

But because of the loss, Akron might be playing with more motivation than normal, MSU head coach Damon Rensing said.

“Akron is a very good team,” Rensing said. “They’re coming off a loss, so they’ll be very fired up. We owe them a little from last year, so we’re really excited to play that game Wednesday.”

On Oct. 19, Akron beat Michigan, 7-1. The Wolverines beat MSU, 3-2, in overtime Saturday. Aware Akron can put up goals, senior defender Colin Givens knows the MSU defense can step up.

“They really stress numbers in the attack, so when they attack, they really bring it full-on,” Givens said. “We’re just going to try and absorb the pressure and try to counter it when we can.

“If we don’t come out, they could beat us, 7-1. But if we come out like we can, it will be a great game.”

Playing at home helped the Zips last season; now coming to DeMartin, the Spartans believe playing on their home field should help them, senior midfielder Spencer Thompson said.

“Last year, the environment was hard to go to,” Thompson said. “They had about 3,000 fans right on top of the field for a night game, that’s what they’re used to.

“They’re going to come here, we don’t even know what the crowd is going to be like, so it’ll be completely different for them.”

Trophy lost

MSU lost in a heartbreaker Saturday at Michigan (10-4-3, 3-2-0) on a spectacular goal in overtime, losing the Big Bear Trophy for the first time since 2003.

The Spartans came back from a second-half, two goal deficit to force overtime with goals from junior forward Domenic Barone.

“It was a typical Michigan-Michigan State game, in a good way,” Rensing said. “It was two competitive teams. We did some good things in the first half — the couple goals we did give up were a little soft. Just a few mistakes — and to be honest, mistakes by guys who usually aren’t making the mistakes.

“Sometimes that happens (and) we’re not happy about it.”

The comeback showcased a lot about the heart of the Spartans, Givens said.

“It was disheartening, but you have to give it to them,” he said. “It took a great goal in overtime to beat us. We battled back and it showed a lot of great character to come back from 2-0 in a hostile environment like that.”

The injury bug

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Several key injuries have been hampering the Spartans in the late-season stretch.

With the injuries, Rensing has given reserves a lot of playing time.

“A lot of the guys we’re talking about (have played),” Rensing said. “We have confidence in those players, so the problem with the injuries isn’t so much who we have to play as getting the guys used to playing with each other.

“Every game we’re tweaking or twisting something, but the team is coming together.”

The new lineups are getting used to each other, Givens said.

“The guys off the bench have been stepping up lately for us,” he said. “Knowing the injuries, we can practice our new system with our new players. We’re going to be more comfortable with each other for this game.”

Thompson said players have been playing through a lot of the injuries, but now they’re taking a toll.

“When you get this late in the season, you have to play through (anything) if you can,” Thompson said.

“Some of us have been banged up the whole season, and we’re just playing through it and trying to give everything for the team that we can.”

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