The Michigan State men's soccer team saw their season end just short of the College Cup final. And afterwards, the team took a look back on what they could have done better in its 5-1 semifinal loss to Akron Friday. as well s how proud they should be for their accomplishments to make it to the Final Four.
MSU Coach Damon Rensing credited his team for not getting shut out by Akron, after falling down 4-0 in the match.
“(It) wasn't in the cards for us” Rensing said after the loss. “I’m so proud of this group and the way they carry themselves. It was 4-0 and our guys could have just given in, but they kept grinding to get a goal to make it 4-1.”
The Spartans outshot the Zips 13-12, but failed to capitalize on opportunities to score in the first half, including missing three quality chances to get the ball pass Akron senior goalkeeper Ben Lundt.
Senior defender Connor Corrigan mentioned that his teammates should be proud of their effort this season, even though they were one win away from playing for a national championship.
“When we got in the tunnel I just told them how proud I was of them,” Corrigan said. “They should have nothing but their heads held high.”
Corrigan, along with the team's other seniors, played in their final game in Santa Barbara. During the week, senior forward Ryan Sierakowski mentioned how this group of seniors wanted to be the first in five decades to bring a championship to East Lansing.
“Our seniors have taken this program to somewhere it hasn’t been in 50 years,” Rensing said. “I’m very proud of them, not just for what they do on the field, but what they have done in the classroom and the community.”
Three of the Spartans' chances to tie the game came in the first half. One of them was via senior forward DeJuan Jones running up the middle of the field but missing the net on his shot attempt.
MSU was not the only Big Ten team in the College Cup representing the conference. Indiana fell to Maryland following the Spartans’ match. MSU was the first team in the conference to lose in the tournament. Before that, Big Ten teams were 10-0-2.
“That conference prepares you for runs in the NCAA tournament,” Rensing said. “This was the first lost the conference suffered in the tournament. I think that speaks volumes.”
With the Big Ten preparing them, the Spartans also felt they knew Akron after facing them earlier this season, but the Zips lost nine players from last year's team.
“When you play a program that has new players it’s easier to try and play them earlier in the year,” Rensing said. “I thought the game was there for us at times, and I know that sounds crazy when it’s 5-1, but the first 30 minutes I thought we struggled.”
Although the game was frustrating for the Spartans, Corrigan doesn't think they should dwell on it for too long, considering how they played throughout their entire season.
“It’s really not too deflating,” Corrigan said. “We have been a group the entire year and we always had each others backs. It was a great chance and it was unfortunate we didn’t finish, but at the end of the day we're a family, so we tried to make sure we didn't get down on ourselves.”