The career shutout record at MSU for men’s soccer is 23 shutouts, a record that until recently was held by two former MSU goalies — John Spink (1984, 1986–88) and Avery Steinlage (2008-10). Junior goalkeeper Zach Bennett can now be included in that company, earning his 23rd career shutout in a 0-0 tie against Rutgers on Sept. 28.
Bennett, the reigning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week, will have ample time to set the record given that he has another year-and-a-half of eligibility. Bennett will have an opportunity to become the record-holder this Saturday against Ohio State.
Despite tying the record as a junior, Bennett’s maturity toward the record is obvious. After the tie with Rutgers, Bennett was more focused on the team’s inability to get the win rather this his record-tying accomplishment.
“Before all that we’re trying to focus on getting those “W”s, and I would (have) much rather taken a win instead of tying the school record (for) shutouts today,” Bennett said.
Bennett may have preferred a win against Rutgers over his individual accomplishment, but he did mention how special it was for him to have accomplished this feat, also crediting his teammates for their contribution.
“That’s something me and (senior defender Ryan) Keener talked about a lot before the year. That was a goal that we set for ourselves, come to find out Keener was a part of every shutout except for one. It was a cool thing for me and him to experience together,” Bennett said. “It’s something that I’ve been working for, something that you come to Michigan State and dream about maybe setting records like this.”
Head coach Damon Rensing was happy to see his goalkeeper tie the record and mentioned that it was indicative of two things.
“I’m happy for him, the fact that he did it halfway through his junior year I think speaks volumes of two things: him, he’s a very good goalie, he’s made some great saves today and some great saves over the last two and a half years that he’s competed for us,” Rensing said. “I think it also speaks volumes of the teams that he’s played on. We’ve had good defenses, we focus on defense as a priority here, and he deserves some individual credit and I think the teams he’s played on deserve some credit as well.”
After getting some much needed rest this week, the team will play again on Oct. 4 against Ohio State. Keener has some goals in mind for the game.
“Definitely (getting) back to work, figure out how to score some goals, and keep getting shutouts,” said Keener.
If the team is able to accomplish the goals Keener wants, it would mean that Bennett takes sole possession of the record as he only needs one more shutout to do so.