In a physical game versus in-state rival Western Michigan (4-2-0), Michigan State men’s soccer lost their fourth straight game in a row, falling 0-1 to the Broncos and making their record 0-4-2.
“It’s frustrating,” Michigan State head coach Damon Rensing said. “We weren’t good in really any area. I went through that with the guys. From goalkeeping, to back four, to midfield, to the forwards.”
The Spartans started slow off the bench in the first period, with the Broncos doing quite the opposite, putting three shots on the green and white goal in the first 15 minutes of game time.
As the period progressed, the Spartans picked up their pace, with Michael Pimlott and Conner George shooting two close shots within two minutes of each other. Pimlott’s shot was saved by Bronco goal keeper Isaac Walker, while George’s shot just missed the goal, soaring out of bounds over the top right corner.
Despite what looked like a pick-up for the Spartans, the team's offense fell back into a struggling pattern for the rest of the first half, putting only four shots on goal as opposed to the Broncos' 10.
31 minutes into the game, Western Michigan’s Charlie Sharp carried the ball up to the Spartan goal, shot the ball past Michigan State’s Hunter Morse and deflected it off the left goal post into the net. Sharp’s goal put the Broncos up 0-1 with just under 15 minutes left to play before halftime.
“Honestly, in the first half, we had the game where we wanted it. We were controlling the tempo, we were wearing them down and then we gave up an easy counter, and that's been the story of our season so far. We are giving up easy goals,” Rensing said.
As the second half kicked off, both teams seemed to be moving a little slower, while the Spartans still struggled to maintain control offensively.
As for the Spartan defense, Morse was put to work during the second half.
Within two minutes of each other, Western Michigan put four shots on Michigan State’s goal, three of which came from forward Eric Conerty.
“I think Hunter was very good at shot-stopping. He’s got to work on some distribution, I think he’d be the first to tell you that tonight,” Rensing said.
With the Spartans still hoping to pull out their first win of the season despite being down by one with just over five minutes to play, midfielder Michael Miller drilled in a shot that just barely missed the net outside to the left.
Still down by one in the last 10 seconds, forward Farai Mutatu had possession of the ball just in front of the Broncos' goal. In what looked like a handball to the fired up Spartan crowd, Western Michigan’s defense blocked Mutatu from putting a shot on goal, ending the game 0-1 Broncos.
“If we’re going to rely on beating Western Michigan in the last 10 seconds on a referee call, then we’re going to leave that to chance. Sometimes he’s gonna call it, sometimes he won’t. At the end of the day, we can’t allow the game to come to that,” Rensing said.
The Spartans will come back out on Tuesday at DeMartin Stadium to play Notre Dame before in-conference play begins next Friday at Rutgers.