MSU loses their third straight game, this time with a score of 1-2, in an overtime thriller to in-state rivals and the No. 10 ranked team in the nation, Michigan.
MSU’s defense shined early, this time lead by redshirt sophomore Will Perkins. In the first half, Perkins shut down any plays that Michigan tried to make on his side of the field, continually disrupting the Michigan offense assuring that they didn’t get any momentum.
"Will was good. He got forward and did a good job on some of their quick, wide players," said head coach Damon Rensing. "I was very happy with his performance."
The MSU defense didn’t just stop Michigan from scoring, but they limited the number of shots the Wolverines put on goal.
In the 13th minute, Perkins would show his skill on offense as well as he struck a hard, left-footed shot on goal. The shot was saved by Michigan. The shot still served as a spark plug for the MSU offense, showing them the Michigan defense did indeed have holes in it.
Like most rivalry games, this one was physical. With about 10 minutes left in the first half there was a stretch of three plays in a row where fouls were called, including yellow cards for MSU’s Conner George and Olu Ogunwale.
After another solid shot by Perkins in the 35th minute, the Spartans would take advantage of another aggressive push in the 37th minute as Nick Stone would score a goal from in front of the net on an assist from Michael Miller. MSU would take this 1-0 lead into the half.
As the second half went on, the refs began to pick up on the physicality of the game and whistles began to blow more often. Players on both teams voiced frustration with the calls, and the game would finish with 31 combined fouls for both teams.
"Obviously there's gonna be some fouls. I think the officials could have been more lenient, but that could have led to some injuries," said Stone. "They did a decent job, but in the end, it cost us a goal."
MSU still held their lead as the second half indeed down, but they didn’t let up offensively. This could have created problems for them as in the 81st minute Michigan countered a MSU push downfield, and with very few defenders able to get back, Michigan tied the game up at 1-1.
This is now the second time in three games that MSU has given up an early lead in the final minutes of the game, and what usually is a strength for them in protecting leads, is now becoming a serious problem that is costing them games.
With five minutes left, goalie Hunter Morse made a game-saving goal as he tips a shot over the net, keeping MSU’s winning hopes alive.
In a final chance to win the game, Michigan was unable to capitalize off of a free kick with seven seconds left and the game would go into overtime.
The physical tone kept pace as the game went on. In the 91st minute, just as overtime started, MSU’s Michael Miller was given a red card, putting MSU now at a disadvantage at the worst possible time.
Rensing said it is hard to determine red cards in the college game.
"Within the game itself you can say it's a red card, but I've been in three other games where that tackle has happened to us and it's not a red card," said Rensing. "It's hard for players from game to game to know what's going to be a red card and what's not."
In the 97th minute, the Wolverines would complete an epic comeback as a bouncing cross found its way into the back of the MSU net. MSU players outraged, fell to the ground in heartbreak. There seemed to be contact on Morse by Michigan, but no whistle was blown and the game ended.
This loss hurts more than the others, especially because MSU played well all around for about 80 minutes, but in the end, the things that they excelled at all game fell through and the momentum switched sides at the worst time.
MSU has a chance to bounce back and show they are a better team than their record as they host the Wisconsin Badgers on March 31st.
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