This past weekend, the men’s soccer team earned two shutout victories. On Friday Aug. 29 the team beat the Southern Methodist Mustangs 1-0 with the goal coming from senior defender Ryan Keener. On Aug. 31 the team played the Florida International Panthers, winning 3-0 on goals from senior midfielder Fatai Alashe, junior defender Zach Carroll and senior forward Adam Montague.
In total, the team scored four goals and gave up none in their two victories over the weekend. It may be early, but the Spartans certainly look like a team worthy of their preseason No. 10 ranking.
“Overall, if on the weekend you can score four goals and give up zero in two games and be 2-0 against SMU and FIU, you should feel pretty good about where you’re at.” Head Coach Damon Rensing said on Sunday.
The 2-0 start is promising for a team with lofty goals that include winning a Big Ten championship and making a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.
“It’s huge, the three other years I’ve been here there’s been some rough starts, and it’s hard to dig yourself out of that hole, so starting off on a good foot is very important,” Alashe said after the game on Sunday. “I was just telling the guys after the game, a 2-0 start is massive whether they realize it or not.”
Alashe’s freshman season in 2011 was a season in which the Spartans finished 7-8-4 — not quite managing to finish above .500. Alashe knows that a start like this is key for a team with big expectations, coming into the season after their historic 2013 season in which they set a school record for most wins in a season.
“You know my freshman year, I think we started like 1-5-1 at the beginning of the season and once you dig yourself a hole like that you’re looking at beating six teams in a row just to get above .500,” Alashe said. “You’re playing good teams at that point like Maryland and Indiana, so it’s good to get these wins before the conference season starts.”
Rensing, who is in his sixth season at the helm of the men’s soccer team, is hoping to keep the team trending upwards and improve on his 60-39-12 overall record as head coach.
“The goal obviously is to challenge for a Big Ten championship ... and you always want to win your conference and then if you get in the NCAA Tournament, obviously you want to make as deep a run as you possibly can,” Rensing said last Tuesday.
The team next plays on Sept. 5 at 8 p.m. against the Illinois-Chicago Flames in a matchup of unbeatens. The Flames went 2-0-0 over the weekend as well, beating Cal State Fullerton on Aug. 29 and San Francisco on Aug. 31.