While a was going down Friday evening just across campus, the 13th-ranked Michigan State men’s soccer team (10-2-3, 4-1-1) was in the midst of a clash of their own against Northwestern (4-7-5, 0-4-3). The Spartans were held to a 0-0 double-overtime draw against the Wildcats on a nippy Senior Night at DeMartin Soccer Stadium.
“From about start to finish, we controlled the game,” said coach Damon Rensing after the game. “I think you’ve got to give Northwestern credit, they took some things away from us, they were organized. I don’t think they really threatened the goal, but again, you know, we needed to be better in the attack.”
Though the Spartans still have one more home game to play before the season comes to a close, they celebrated the send-off of its 10-man senior squad prior to the game.
“I don’t really want to think about what it’s going to be like without them,” Rensing said. “We’ve got a lot of season still to play here. They’ve been a great group. Obviously, they’ve accomplished a lot of things, so you know, (I'm) very proud of them.”
MSU will be saying goodbye to its senior captains in forward DeJuan Jones, defender Connor Corrigan and goalkeeper Jimmy Hague. Hague is the reigning Big Ten goalkeeper of the year and has been crucial to the Spartans success over the past two seasons along with Jones, the team’s leading scorer along with fellow senior forward Ryan Sierakowski, and Corrigan, who started seven game this season for the Spartans.
“It’s been great,” Jones said of his time at MSU. “When I was over there with my family I almost started crying for a second. Like ‘Oh wow, this means a lot to me.’ So just playing in front of this home crowd with my brothers is something I’ll never forget.”
The Spartans also honored Sierakowski, forward Hunter Barone, midfielders Robbie Cort and Cody Sweatte, defenders John Freitag and Luke Menne and goalkeeper Zach Kovan.
The slick, windy weather may have been a factor as the game got off to a relatively slow start, with neither team able to get much offense going in the first period. The Spartans failed to convert any of their 10 shots in the first half as the two teams headed into the break scoreless.
The second period would start off in similar fashion, as the Spartans blanked on four shots through the first 30 minutes of the period. MSU's defense, however, was able to stifle the Wildcats' offense, holding them to just three shots through the first 80 minutes.
The scoring drought continued as neither team was able to reach the back of the net in regulation, sending the game to overtime with it still knotted up at zero.
The Spartans picked up the pace in overtime, getting three shots off in the final minutes of the overtime period, forcing two saves from Northwestern goalkeeper Miha Miskovic. However, the Spartans still were unable to find the net, sending the game into a double overtime.The second overtime period would be pick up even faster than the first. The Spartans applied pressure on the Northwestern defense, however, some nifty work by Miskovic again kept the game alive.
After the second overtime period, in which neither team was able to score, the Spartans were sent home with their third draw of the season.
“It was a decent effort by us,” Jones said. “We had a lot of the ball, we got some good crosses, some good chances. The goalie made some good saves and the ball just didn’t bounce our way a couple times.”
Before heading to Indiana in what could be a season deciding game, the Spartans will return to action Tuesday night at DeMartin Soccer Stadium to take on rival University of Michigan. Kickoff against the Wolverines is scheduled for 8 p.m.
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