As the No. 9 ranked men’s soccer team (9-2-2 overall, 3-1-1 Big Ten) prepares to take on in-state opponent the Oakland Grizzlies (6-5-1 overall, 5-0-1 Horizon) on Wednesday, the team will try to not get caught looking on to the next opponent. Sleeping on the Grizzles could cost the Spartans a late season win, and lead to a fall in the RPI.
“It’s an in-state rivalry (and) any in-state rivalry game is tough,” junior midfielder Jason Stacy said. “Oakland has a good squad, they’re well coached, but I think if we do what we’re capable of doing and we train with the right mentality each day this week leading up to the game, I think we should be able to come away with a result.
“It’s not like one game is more important than the next, this is our biggest game of the season. And after (this) game, the next game is going to be the biggest game of the season,” Stacy said. “It’s a matter of moving through each opponent one at a time and not overlooking anyone because anyone can beat anyone in college soccer.”
MSU is riding a four-game winning streak, but Oakland has a winning streak of its own going. After starting the season 0-5-1, the Grizzlies have rallied off six straight wins, including five conference wins and a win over then No. 13-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes (5-5-3 overall, 3-2-0 Big Ten), a team that handed the Spartans a 3-2 loss on Oct. 4.
"(The game against Oakland is) going to be an interesting game because both teams are doing well in their respective conferences,” head coach Damon Rensing said. “You have this mid-week battle that is for bragging rights within the state.”
Rensing mentioned that the goal to be one of the best teams in the country goes hand in hand with being the best team in the state. After losing to Penn State (10-2-1 overall, 4-2-0 Big Ten) to start the season on Aug. 29 and later defeating the Buckeyes, the Grizzlies will no doubt be looking to get another quality win against a Big Ten opponent.
"(One of) our goals is to be the best program in the state, along with the country, and in the Big Ten,” Rensing said. “Oakland will be fired up to play a Big Ten school so it will be interesting and we just have to keep doing what we’re doing, we don’t have to change a whole lot.”