Monday, August 2, 2021

Men's soccer shut out by Ohio State in 1st outdoor home game at Lansing Catholic High

March 4, 2021
Michigan State's Alex Shterenberg (8) blocks Ohio State's Xavier Green's (11) pass during the Spartans' loss on March 3, 2021.
Michigan State's Alex Shterenberg (8) blocks Ohio State's Xavier Green's (11) pass during the Spartans' loss on March 3, 2021. —
Photo by Rahmya Trewern | The State News

MSU men's soccer finally was able to breathe in the fresh air for the first time this season, at least near Michigan State's campus, as they played their first outdoor game of the year in Michigan against Ohio State at Lansing Catholic High School about 15 minutes down the road.

It didn't go as planned, however, and the Buckeyes struck early on and late to close out the Spartans in their first appearance at least somewhat close to home en route to a 2-0 victory that now has the Spartans at 1-3 on the season with only one goal scored against five allowed.

“We didn’t score a goal today, so we’ll go back in the video and right our wrong, we either lost one to nothing or two to nothing,” MSU Head Coach Damon Rensing said after the loss.

Rensing and his team have struggled defensively and are still working to find their form early on in a weird year. MSU won't play until March 11 against Northwestern with plenty of time to regroup.

OSU is now 2-1 on the year with wins against MSU and Maryland.

Ohio State flexes muscle in shutout win

MSU fell behind early again as Ohio State struck quick on a free-kick just outside the left of the box that bounced its way into the bottom right corner, putting OSU up 1-0 in the 8th minute of the match.

But the Spartans once again showed struggles to put the ball in the back of the net, pushing the ball downfield – but just not able to connect on that one pass to put them in scoring position. 

“Ohio State is a good team, they’re together and have some good pieces," Rensing said. "They’re gonna take advantage of mistakes, and we certainly made some mistakes early on and that’s what cost us."

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It was the Buckeyes who set the tone of the game early with very aggressive defense — sending two and three defenders at MSU's players when holding possession. MSU did a good job of not letting Ohio State turn defense into offense and handled the traps with composure, escaping them more times than not.

MSU had a golden chance at an equalizer in the 33rd minute as sophomore Gianni Ferri out-maneuvered the Ohio State defense, including the goalie. As Ferri took his shot at the open net, an Ohio State defender came over from the weak side to clear a shot that would have tied the game. Ferri played an aggressive game and while MSU only took five shots all game: Ferri took two of them. He always seemed to be around the ball and involved with the play for MSU’s offense.

MSU seemed to pick up a little momentum at the end of the half, and while they went into halftime trailing 1-0.

MSU struggled on corner kicks as well throughout the game, not capitalizing on several key opportunities. In the 67th minute redshirt junior Alex Shterenberg sent a well-hit header at the goal off a corner kick but sent it wide right. 

Both teams put their stamp on what was a physical second half as bodies went flying, diving and sliding all over the field. The two teams combined for 22 fouls. 

MSU’s backline was out of sorts today and in the 80th minute, it would cost them any chance to win the game. OSU’s redshirt senior Samuel Buzzas put away MSU with a late score that was controversially called onsides by the referees, giving the Buckeyes an unrelenting 2-0 advantage.

Again, MSU struggled on both sides of the field. Offensive struggles have been a pattern so far this season for the Spartans, it was uncharacteristic the way the defense played.

“I didn’t think our defense was near where it was against Penn State,” Rensing said. “I don’t think we handled coming off a good win at Penn State properly. I thought we were a little too prideful, instead of doing what got us there.”

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