Sunday, December 5, 2021

FINAL: Akron 2, MSU 1, sudden death goal sends Spartans home heartbroken

August 31, 2021
<p>Senior midfielder Louis Sala takes a corner kick during Michigan State&#x27;s loss to Akron on Aug. 30, 2021.</p>

Senior midfielder Louis Sala takes a corner kick during Michigan State's loss to Akron on Aug. 30, 2021.

Photo by Devin Anderson-Torrez | The State News

All it takes is five seconds for the course of trajectory, the reality you're in, to change. One minor crack in the defense, in the game plan, just a hiccup and everything falls to pieces.

That's what happened Monday night to the Michigan State men's soccer team, when Akron midfielder Wan Kuzri Wan Kamal snuck the ball under MSU goalie Hunter Morse with 25 seconds remaining in regulation play.

A 1-1 tie became a 2-1 loss in the blink of an eye and the four-year-old losing streak progressed on as the Spartans are now 0-5 to the Zips.

"We had the game where we wanted, ... but we got caught on the counter," Michigan State Head Coach Damon Rensing said postgame.

The first half of the game was both eventful and stagnant. Literally – no one was on the board by halftime and there was a combined 13 fouls with one yellow card enforced on Akron.

"It was two high-level teams figuring each other out and I said to the guys, 'Don't change a whole lot, just be more comfortable and confident on the ball,'" Rensing said.

Shortly into the second half of the game, Michigan State's midfielder Michael Miller and forward Gianni Ferri together took Rensing's words to heart and came alive. At the 63 minute marker, the Spartans found the back of the net, managing to bump through an opening between Akron goalie Will Meyer's feet.

"I think Akron was taken a little off guard there, and Gianni was able to do a little trick in the corner (to get me the ball)," Miller said. "It's my grandpa's 71st birthday today, so that goal was for him. He told me to get one for him."

It was a breath of air for the fans as the weight of an overtime battle lessened its burden.

But, with sports, one can never get their hopes up that high. An avid fan could compare it to teetering at the peak of the Top Thrill Dragster at Cedar Point. For good measure, too, because Akron was quick to answer with a goal of their own roughly 15 minutes later. And then another one, almost immediately.

"We worked hard out there, it could've gone either way, but in the end they got the win," Miller said. "We know what we need to clean up for Friday. These kinds of games are really 50/50."

The Spartans (1-1-0) will host Oakland next on Friday, Sept. 3. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at DeMartin Stadium.

"It's a good Oakland team, they're going to be fired up ... with a little bit of early season desperation," Rensing said. "It'll be tough, but if we play the way we did tonight, we'll win games and you have to keep that focus. I like this group, where we're at and the mentality they have."

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