Sunday, December 5, 2021

FINAL: MSU 1, Duquesne 0, Spartans slide ahead of Dukes in mud match

September 22, 2021
<p>Duquesne freshman forward Joey Belloti intercepts the ball with a header. Michigan State men&#x27;s soccer team defeated Duquesne 1-0 on Sept. 21, 2021 in East Lansing.</p>

Duquesne freshman forward Joey Belloti intercepts the ball with a header. Michigan State men's soccer team defeated Duquesne 1-0 on Sept. 21, 2021 in East Lansing.

Photo by Devin Anderson-Torrez | The State News

Duquesne wasn't the only opponent for Michigan State men's soccer on Tuesday night ... they also had to deal with Michigan's infamous fall weather.

Rain, winds as high as 7 mph coming in from the south and temperatures in the low 60s turned the pitch into a mud match. Nonetheless, MSU prevailed, sliding ahead of the Dukes 1-0 with a clean sheet.

"I asked this team to be a winning team and not just play good soccer," Michigan State Head Coach Damon Rensing said postgame. "(This was our) first shutout of the year, and it came after three really tough road games with not a lot of rest."

Junior forward Gianni Ferri and senior midfielder Luke Morrell were out for Tuesday night's game for reasons unknown and Rensing said there is no status on when they will return.

Moving up from substitution positions, sophomore midfielder Jacob Cromer, redshirt sophomore forward Kellan Landefeld and freshman forward Zack Babiak made their debuts as key players against Duquesne, collecting a total of three shots attempted and three fouls in the first half.

Redshirt senior defender Connor Brazil also made his debut, collecting one foul in 73 minutes of play.

Senior midfielder Olu Ogunwale and sophomore midfielder Jack Zugay were demoted to substitutes for the night, making short appearances to help the Spartans defend their lead.

In total, the Spartans marked 14 shots, three on goal, in the span of 90 minutes. Graduate student midfielder Michael Miller and senior forward Farai Mutatu combined for nine of the 14 on their own. They managed to hold off Duquesne for the first 45 minutes, but things only got harder after halftime and the Spartans were in a visibly panicked frenzy trying to remain secure.

The only goal for the Spartans came off the head of Mutatu in the first 15 minutes of play, assisted by fellow captain and senior midfielder Jack Beck.

"Jack's service is as good as Chick-Fil-A right now," Mutatu joked postgame. "We've been playing together for a long time. We push each other and he's my brother. ... We've got to keep being ready and open for (the team)."

"Farai and I, we have a lot of chemistry going back a lot years and, especially with the system we play, it allows a lot of opportunities for us to combine together," Beck said postgame. "His hold up play is really well. He's been getting on the end of a lot of set pieces ... and I'm glad I've been able to get him good balls in the attacking third for him to finish."

Duquesne looked for the equalizer in the 49th minute and it managed to roll over MSU redshirt senior goalkeeper Hunter Morse and thump against the back of the net, but the goal was taken away due to an offsides call.

The Spartans (3-3-1) will host their second in-conference team Indiana next on Sunday, Sept. 26. Kickoff is scheduled for 3 p.m. at DeMartin Stadium. In the meantime, the green and white are taking a much-needed and well-deserved rest.

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