Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Men's soccer prepares for final home game, Damon Rensing 'really proud' despite tough season

March 31, 2021
University of Michigan's Jacob Nunner (18) falls as Michigan State's Jack Zugay (5) attempts to retrieve the ball in the Spartans' loss on March 23, 2021.
University of Michigan's Jacob Nunner (18) falls as Michigan State's Jack Zugay (5) attempts to retrieve the ball in the Spartans' loss on March 23, 2021. —
Photo by Rahmya Trewern | The State News

This season hasn’t been exactly what MSU men's soccer had expected. The Spartans have a 2-6 record and are currently on a three-game losing skid.

Despite the record not being great, the Spartans have played great games this year and have lost several games in the last minutes, including a heartbreaking loss to Michigan in overtime last week.

As MSU prepares for their final home game of the season against Wisconsin, there is still a sense of pride from Head Coach Damon Rensing.

“I’ve been really proud of this group,” Rensing said. “... Sometimes results in soccer don’t really show the growth.”

MSU has shown improvement throughout the season. As injuries have struck their team, their backline has been playing much better defensively as of late. After only scoring one goal in their first four games, they have scored a goal in each of their last four games. 

Also, good news arrives for the Spartans going into Wednesday as one of their preseason All-Big Ten players, Farai Mutatu, will be available to return from injury. While his role and status for the game are unclear at this point, his presence helps the MSU offense play at a higher, more aggressive pace.

The Spartans are looking to gain momentum at the right time. The Spartans sit in eighth place in the Big Ten, and only the top eight teams in the conference move on to play in the conference tournament. With Wisconsin sitting in that ninth place spot, this game serves to be a must-win if the Spartans have any hope of making any kind of postseason run.

The Spartans definitely aren’t overlooking the Badgers, who have a 1-6-1 record. 

Wisconsin beat Ohio State, tied Northwestern, and nearly beat Penn State on a last-second goal in their previous games, showing that this year's records don’t show the real capabilities of all the teams in the conference. 

“This conference has a ton of parity," Rensing said. "I don’t know how much of a difference there is from the first team to the ninth team."

MSU will also host small senior day festivities shortly before kickoff. While MSU technically has a few seniors, only goalkeeper Isaiah Handspike will not be using his extra year of eligibility and will not return to the team next year. 

Handspike has been an off-the-field leader for the Spartans, but he also came in and played some solid games, especially a good game against Indiana this year when the usual starting goalkeeper Hunter Morse was out due to COVID-19 contact tracing and protocols earlier this season. 

MSU looks to come out and prove that they are better than their record, and after a week-long period of practice and rest, now is as good a time as ever to prove it.

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