In a midday Saturday Big Ten battle, MSU men's soccer beat Northwestern 2-1 in the last home game of the regular season at DeMartin Stadium.
As has recently been the case for MSU, the game slowly cranked forward before any distinct chances broke thought. MSU's first shot was not until the 24th minute of the game.
MSU goalkeeper Jimmy Hague had the responsibility of containing the first shot on goal of the game from either team, which didn't take flight until the 29th minute via a lofted, padded header from Northwestern forward Mike Roberge.
Seven minutes before the halftime whistle, the game hastened, with a tight vicinity shot from Roberge clutched close by Hague, who quickly triggered a counterattack. Freshman attacking midfielder Giuseppe Barone jaunted into the box with the ball. After a nifty lift from Giuseppe Barone, ruckus ensued as MSU players entreated referee for a handball call.
Nothing was given, and the game entered halftime scoreless with an identical three shots apiece.
In the 52nd minute, MSU cut the tension. Junior attacking midfielder Ken Krolicki played a mindful ball to sophomore winger Hunter Barone, unguarded on the left flank. Hunter Barone trotted into position, the ball leading him to the goal line. As two defenders enclosed, Hunter Barone noticed his brother's run to the center area.
Hunter Barone released an accurate cross to the body of Giuseppe Barone. With a contortionist audition of flexibility, Giuseppe Barone twisted himself sideways in midair and aerially scissored his legs for a one-time effort. The powerful connection propelled the shot into the bottom left corner, concluding the brotherly pairing in storybook fashion.
MSU continued with the second half assailment, with both senior Dewey Lewis and junior Brad Centala aiming to guarantee the win with deep drives. The final assurance was not to come in the 74th minute, however.
Redshirt-junior Ryan Scott chased a ball down the left wing, eventually rounding it to step his way towards the end line. At the last moment, he chopped in a low-lying cross to the near post. MSU's leading goalscorer and poacher Ryan Sierakowski was in on the plot. The first to the ball, the sophomore forward finished off the task with a close-range conversion.
Sierokowski's eighth goal of the year and third in the Big Ten formalized the win. With the pressure off, MSU was quick to revel in the win, barely denied four more times in the next ten minutes by the stalwart resilience of Northwestern goalkeeper Francisco Tomasino.
Tomasino was redeemed by his offense in the 88th minute. Jeffrey Hopson created a quagmire in the back of the Michigan State defense when an incisive pass pushed the huddled the attack around Hague's net. Forward Elo Ozumba fed off of the confusion, slotting home a five-foot certainty.
With just two minutes remaining, however, Northwestern was unable to threaten the result.
With the win, MSU climbed to the sole second position in the Big Ten with just one final conference challenge. First, MSU will travel to South Bend to play Notre Dame on Tuesday.
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