Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Men's soccer defeats Oakland to advance to Sweet Sixteen

November 24, 2014
<p>Then-junior defender Zach Carroll gives fives to Spartan supporters Nov. 23, 2014, after the game against Oakland at DeMartin Stadium at Old College Field. The Spartans defeated the Golden Grizzlies, 1-0. Aerika Williams/The State News </p>

Then-junior defender Zach Carroll gives fives to Spartan supporters Nov. 23, 2014, after the game against Oakland at DeMartin Stadium at Old College Field. The Spartans defeated the Golden Grizzlies, 1-0. Aerika Williams/The State News

The men’s soccer team (12-4-5 overall, 4-2-2 Big Ten) advanced to the Sweet Sixteen by defeating the Oakland Golden Grizzlies (10-7-3 overall, 5-0-3 Horizon) 1-0 in the second round of the NCAA tournament Sunday afternoon.

This was the second time this season the Spartans played the Golden Grizzlies this season, this time avenging their 2-0 loss on Oct. 22 during the regular season.

“This is a tough game when you have these in-state rivalries. Oakland is very well-coached,” head coach Damon Rensing said. ”(We were) picked to win this game. It’s expected, and I thought our guys played a little bit like that.

“You gotta give our guys a lot of credit. It was an emotional game, fantastic crowd and we found a way to survive and advance.”

The first half saw each team generate plenty of opportunities but neither could put one into the back of the net. A great shot by Golden Grizzlies junior forward Gerald Ben hit the crossbar at the 12:58 mark.

MSU also had its fair share of opportunities. MSU senior forward Adam Montague fought his way behind the defense, firing a shot that forced Oakland freshman goalkeeper Wes Mink to make a miraculous save at the 34:49 mark.

The Spartans took 10 shots and two corner kicks in the half compared to eight shots and two corner kicks by the Golden Grizzlies. Much like the first time these two teams met, the first half was scoreless.

After giving up two second half goals back on the Oct. 22 matchup, the second half for the Spartans was a bit different the second time around against Oakland. At the 66:13 mark of the second half MSU junior defender Zach Carroll scored on a header off of an assist by sophomore midfielder Dewey Lewis giving MSU the 1-0 lead.

The MSU defense held on, earning junior goalkeeper Zach Bennett another shutout. Oakland had a few good opportunities late, forcing Bennett to make a crazy one-handed save by volleying the ball in one hand several times before securing it.

“I popped my right hand up, it went up in the air and one of their guys started bodying me up and I couldn’t really pull my left hand up, so I just kept bobbling it to my self,” Bennett said. “I’m sure I scared the bejesus out of the coaching staff, but I controlled it and ended up holding on to it.”

MSU had 14 shots and four corner kicks total, despite a losing outcome Oakland had an advantage in both with 16 shots and six corner kicks.

MSU will play the winner of Washington vs. Furman in the Sweet Sixteen next Sunday at DeMartin Stadium.

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