In a devastating shut-out, Michigan State soccer fell 0-3 against Penn State (5-1-2) in their Big Ten home opener on Tuesday. The Spartans struggled to put shots on goal, putting up nine, three of which came from Big Ten offensive player of the week Farai Mutatu, against the Nittany Lions. The Spartans moved their record to 1-6-2 overall and 1-1 in the Big Ten following the loss.
“We just have to be more consistent for 90 minutes,” Head Coach Damon Rensing said regarding what hurt his team on Tuesday’s game. “Doing some good things on both ends for 55, 60, (or) 75 minutes isn’t really good enough when you play well coached teams and everybody in the Big 10 is well coached.”
The matchup started fairly slow in the first half, with neither team making any big moves.
Momentum for the Nittany Lions picked up after a fast drive up Spartan territory in the 27th minute of the game led to a Penn State goal by Liam Butts. Shortly after, Penn State midfielder Seth Kuhn put two close shots on the Spartan goal within two minutes of each other, both of which were saved by Spartan goalkeeper Hunter Morse.
However, the second half was different, the Spartans came out explosive off the bench, making it look like a comeback was on the way by claiming offensive dominance for the first few minutes.
Less than a minute into the half, Spartan forward Conner George put Penn State’s goalkeeper Josh Levine to work for the first time all game, placing a shot at the bottom center of the Nittany Lions goal that was saved just in time by Levine, the Big Ten defensive player of the week.
Following George’s shot, the Spartans put several more shots in the Nittany Lions' goal, putting up a total of four shots within the first ten minutes of the half, significantly trumping their two shots throughout the entire first half.
“I thought our response in the second half was very good for the first 10-12 minutes,” Rensing said. “Unfortunate not to get a tying goal there, that’s probably what we needed and it didn’t happen.”
The Spartans looked dominant until Penn State midfielder Aaron Molloy came out from the woodworks, putting two shots on goal in a matter of six minutes. Molloy led the game in shots, with five against the Spartan net throughout the game.
Penn State propelled back into offensive dominance following Molloy’s offensive rally. In the 67th minute, Penn State’s Andrew Privett scored the Nittany Lions their second goal. Just over 10 minutes later, Liam Butts put another goal past the Spartan defense, making the game 0-3 with about 11 minutes left to play.
In the final minutes, Michigan State's Alex Shterenberg and Gianni Ferri tried to catch the Spartans up but failed to do so against the tight Penn State defense. The game ended 0-3, Nittany Lions.
The Spartans will take a road trip to Wisconsin for their next game on Sunday against the Badgers.
“I think it will be about our mentality,” Rensing said, looking forward to the teams next Big Ten matchup. “Sometimes we show some maturity and sometimes we show some immaturity and tonight, there was moments where we showed some immaturity.”