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Spartan soccer yields slow start to 2019 season

September 23, 2019

Six games into their season, the Michigan State men’s soccer team has yet to add a win to their record. The Spartans are 0-4-2 on the season, marking their worst starting record in over 10 years.

“We are just not where we need to be,” head coach Damon Rensing said following the teams most recent loss against Western Michigan.

The Spartans began their season with back-to-back draws against Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and Florida Gulf Coast. Since then, the green and white have been on a four game losing streak against Washington, Cornell, Dartmouth and Western Michigan.

The shaky start for the Spartans comes after a historic 2018 season, where the team yielded a 14-5-4 record and advanced to the College Cup for the first time since 1968.

This season however, the Spartans have struggled offensively, putting up a mere three goals total throughout their six games to date.

“I thought some of our younger guys would be further along by now, and I think we need some leaders to step up as well,” Rensing, who is on his 11th season coaching at Michigan State, said.

Despite their record, the Spartans have only been defeated by one goal in each of their four losses. As for the draws, the green and white have already played three overtime games this season, whereas last year they had a total of four overtime games all season.

Rensing said the slow start for the Spartan’s is due to some “critical mistakes.”

"We’re good at defending, and I think the defenders feel pressured because we’re not scoring goals, so the forwards have to be a little bit better,” Rensing explained. 

The Spartans have also been plagued with injuries this season, specifically to two key players and captain Giuseppe Barone and Patrick Nielsen. Barone has sat out five games while Nielsen has sat out six, and the return for either of them remains unknown. 

The Spartans will begin Big Ten conference play next week against defending NCAA champion Rutgers. Before then, the Spartans hope to regroup and regain momentum.

“In these moments, I’m not worried about who played well. I think we just have to all go back and look at what we can do individually to get better,” Rensing said. “We’re just going to keep grinding away. ... All I know is to keep working.”

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