A popular phrase in soccer is “Bend it like Beckham,” but in the MSU men’s soccer team’s 1-0 win against Oregon State Friday afternoon, it should have been “Bend it like Thelen.”
Senior defender Ryan Thelen scored his first career goal when he bent a corner kick into the net in the 60th with a shot that would have made Beckham himself stand up and applaud.
“The goalie was a little bit off his line, so I just decided to try and swing it in,” Thelen said. “I was very lucky to get it in, but I’ll take it.”
He said he’s done it once before, but that was in high school.
The goal came on the seventh of the nine corner kicks the Spartans (2-0-0 overall) won, while Oregon State had none the entire game.
The first ten minutes of the game, both teams were feeling each other out, but from the 15th minute on, MSU was in control holding the ball and gaining much of the possession.
“I was happy that we not only had the possession, but created dangerous chances,” head coach Damon Rensing said. “I don’t want to just have possession for possession sake, but we had good possession and got chances and that’s the combination that we’re looking for.”
Much of the play from Oregon State was down the right side of the field, which was held down by a pair of freshmen for the Spartans.
Still, redshirt freshman Andrew Herr and freshman midfielder Dewy Lewis didn’t give the Beavers any ground.
MSU outshot Oregon State 16-9, with eight shots each coming in each of the halves.
The last ten minutes of the game provided some scary situations for MSU and sophomore goalkeeper Zach Bennett as the Beavers pushed the ball forward, desperately trying to get an equalizer.
Bennett made a slew of good saves to preserve his second shutout of the season and said it’s hard to play with a lead against a good side like Oregon State.
“I knew that they were going to be coming pretty hard towards the end of the game,” Bennett said. “A really good cross and unlucky (senior defender Ryan) Keener didn’t quite get it and the guy headed it and I tried to make myself as bug as possible and I got the first save and again try to make myself as bug as possible and luckily he hit the second one wide.”
The Spartans next face off against Valparaiso at 1 p.m. Sunday at DeMartin Stadium.
Rensing said both teams will be tired after playing games Friday, but MSU is going to have to be deep and learn from the things that went wrong against Oregon State.
“We’re going to have to call on some guys,” he said. “Valpo’s got a tough game tonight in a conference game at Oakland. If we’re fortunate to go up a goal, we’ve got to have a better mentality to keep pushing and not get too defensive.”
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