No. 7 Michigan State men’s soccer (0-0-2) drew against the visiting, undefeated, Florida Gulf Coast Eagles (1-0-1) Monday night. After finishing in a draw in their home opener this past Friday, the Spartans looked to get themselves into the win column with a Labor Day victory. Following an Alex Shterenberg goal in the last minute of regulation to tie up the game, the Spartans would go scoreless in two overtimes, ending the game in a draw and pushing their record to 0-0-2.
Although they didn’t get the result they wanted, Head Coach Damon Rensing liked what he saw from his team.
“I was really proud of the character of our guys. To give the penalty with two minutes and forty seconds left, they could’ve just wilted and went away, but they didn’t. They showed good character, heart came right back and tied the game. … We are not a finished product, but I do feel good about where we are at, and I like this groups’ character,” Rensing said.
Play remained stagnant through the first half, as each team displayed a strong defensive effort. Michigan State keeper Hunter Morse was impressive, seeing six shots, saving three of which shot on goal.
The Spartans were able to record four shots on offense, three of which came off the foot of forward Farai Mutatu, but were unable to get any into the back of the net. Entering this half without a goal marked the ninth period in a row the Spartans put a zero on the board this season – including exhibition games.
The second half remained close and aggressive, as both teams picked up multiple yellow cards. Florida Gulf Coast continued to attack the net, getting several shots away.
MSU responded well to their shots, seeing one of their best opportunities to score with 19:40 left in the game. A good attack resulted in a shot by midfielder Michael Miller, but again, the Spartans were unable to find the back of the net.
One of the most crucial moments in the game came with just 2:40 left, when Florida Gulf Coast’s Ivan Rosales sank a penalty kick into the top left corner to put FGCU up 1-0. But Michigan State would get to attempt a penalty kick of their own to tie the game under a minute later.
With :57 left on the clock, it would be midfielder Alex Shterenberg who would drill the penalty kick, tying the game and scoring the Spartan’s first goal of the season. There would not be another goal scored in regulation and Michigan State would go into their second overtime game in a row.
Each team went scoreless in the first overtime, pushing the Spartans to their second double overtime draw in one week.
While the Spartans still haven't notched their first win, they have been without two of their captains, Giuseppe Barone and Patrick Nielsen, and believe they will benefit greatly from their return.
“They have a good presence. They’re a calmness in these games, they’ve played in these games, so when things are a little frantic they are the guys that slow things down and say ‘Hey we’re good,’” Rensing said.
The Spartans’ (0-0-2) next game will take place at 6 p.m. this Friday, Sept. 6, at DeMartin Stadium. The match will be the second of their four game homestand against the Washington Huskies (2-0-0).
College Cup hopes
The men’s soccer team is fresh off a deep run into last years’ College Cup, making it down to the last four teams before falling 5-1 to the Akron Zips in their semifinal matchup. Two games through the regular season, Head Coach Damon Rensing has similar hopes of success for this 2019 team, but wants to take it one game at a time.
“We are at a starting point. I talk to the guys about getting a little bit better every day. I think they are trying to do that. … We aren’t going to worry about what our end goals are. You always want to challenge for the Big Ten Conference in these games against Florida Gulf Coast. Next Friday against Washington will really prepare us for those types of games,” Rensing said.
Meeting the Spartans
The game was followed by a meet and greet outside of DeMartin Stadium, where supporters were able to meet this year’s men’s soccer team. The fans had opportunities to talk to and take pictures with their favorite Spartans and pick up this year’s soccer poster.