The men’s soccer team (6-2-2 overall, 1-1-1 Big Ten), after defeating Akron 1-0 on Oct. 7, will have to get ready to play the Wisconsin Badgers (2-7-1 overall, 0-3-0 Big Ten) on Oct.11 at 2 p.m.
The game against Wisconsin will be the team’s third in just eight days, and while they must prepare to play on short rest, the team must also take a moment to acknowledge the accomplishment of junior goalkeeper Zach Bennett.
The shutout win over Akron gave Bennett his 24th career shutout, giving him sole possession of the school record for career shutouts, after having tied the record against Rutgers in a 0-0 tie on Sept. 28.
Head coach Damon Rensing was excited for his goalkeeper and acknowledged that Bennett has to be given a lot of credit. Rensing also congratulated those that previously held the record.
“That’s a credit to him, that’s a credit to the players that played in front of him, (and) to be honest it’s a credit to the goalkeepers at Michigan State,” Rensing said. “Congratulations to Avery Steinlage and John Spink, those guys held the record, (we’ve had) a ton of great goalkeeping here and a great history.”
Senior defender Ryan Keener, who has been a part of all but one of Bennett’s shutouts, described how special it feels to have been a contributing factor in the accomplishment.
“It’s awesome to be a part of and when you have a guy like (Zach Bennett) that works tirelessly, off-days, every chance he gets, there’s no one that challenges himself more than he does,” Keener said. “It was only a matter of time before he got himself up there. It’s really special to be a part of and it’s an accomplishment for our whole team.”
As the team puts the accomplishment in the rearview, they must focus on the goal at hand, winning the Big Ten Championship. With only five Big Ten games remaining, every game is key, beginning with Wisconsin on Saturday.
“We’re 1-1-1 in the Big Ten (and) really need a big win,” Keener said. ”(Wisconsin) is a good team, a young team coming in and we’ll do everything we can (to win).”
The Badgers started five freshmen in their most recent game against Green Bay on Oct. 7, emphasizing their youth.
"(Wisconsin’s youth) can work both ways, it can work to their advantage, it can work to our advantage,” Rensing said. “They’re talented, and I think more so than young or not when you play talented teams you don’t want to let those guys get excited and get comfortable.”