Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Michigan State men's soccer shutout in season opener against Rutgers

February 19, 2021
<p>Sophomore forward Gianni Ferri shoots the ball during the game against Rutgers on Feb. 19, at the St. Joe&#x27;s Sports Dome. The Spartans lost to the Scarlet Nights 0-2.</p>

Sophomore forward Gianni Ferri shoots the ball during the game against Rutgers on Feb. 19, at the St. Joe's Sports Dome. The Spartans lost to the Scarlet Nights 0-2.

Photo by Lauren Snyder | The State News

It was different, playing indoors instead of out.

MSU struggled, Rutgers shined and MSU had its three-year opening game win streak snapped as they fell in a scrappy game to Rutgers 2-0.

MSU started out the game behind as Rutgers struck first with a strike into the right corner 15 minutes into the game that gave the Scarlet Knights a 1-0 lead.

“I don't think our offense had a lot of teeth to it,” head coach Damon Rensing said. “I just didn’t think we reversed the ball enough, I think that was part of our anxiousness and excitement.”

Rutgers dictated the pace, playing a fast attacking game that sped up MSU’s lineup. The Spartans advanced the ball throughout the half, but the execution seemed to be off as they just couldn’t capitalize and get past the last line of Rutgers' defense.

The Spartans couldn’t notch an equalizer as they went into halftime down 1-0.

MSU tried to turn the tables as they came out fast and aggressively in the second half.

The bench erupted in frustration as junior Olu Ogunwale was met with contact in the box of Rutgers, but the referees let the game continue on without a foul or what would have been a penalty kick and a great opportunity to even the game for MSU.

This was a prime example of how physical the game was. Rutgers ended the game with 13 fouls and MSU with nine, but there were plenty of small tackles and interactions that could have been called on both sides.

Rutgers would answer this with another goal in the 52nd minute, putting MSU’s hopes for a comeback out of reach.

The Spartans did turn the intensity up in the second half, after only having one shot attempt in the first half, they had seven in the second half alone. 

MSU had another great opportunity with 25 minutes left as junior Farai Mutatu hit a strong volley off a free kick, but Rutgers’ goalkeeping held strong as they finished the day with five saves.

Even after the loss, MSU is not too down about the struggles in the first game.

Rensing said that overall the team health and shape looked good for having not played in 15 months. The biggest problem MSU is facing is its offense.

“Offense takes a while to get going,” Rensing admitted.

The Spartans look to bounce back and get that first goal of the season as they head to Ann Arbor to take on the University of Michigan in an early-season rivalry game on Feb. 23.

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