When EMTs show up on the turf with a stretcher, you know something bad has happened.
After 30 minutes of sustained silence and concern, Maryland junior midfielder Malcolm Johnston was seen surfacing the commotion, bundled up in blankets as he's wheeled away with what is assumed to be a head injury after a nasty collision with MSU senior forward Farai Mutatu off a free kick.
The Spartans continued the night with a bit of a conscious cloud over their shoulders, eventually falling to Maryland 3-1 in their last home game of the season.
“It was a tough result,” Michigan State Head Coach Damon Rensing said postgame. “The way we started the game was unfortunate, ... and that set the tone. Obviously, ... I hope the Maryland kid is doing well. I want to wish him, his family and his team all the best. Maryland came out of that injury and got a goal, so it was tough to go down 2-0 at the half, but the guys rallied. ... We had some great chances to (lock in). ... There's no quit in this team and that's what I love about them.”
Maryland was on the board early with a shot from senior forward Brayan Padilla at 1:47. Another shot after the unwarranted intermission from redshirt freshman midfielder/forward Joshua Bolma put the Terrapins up two-nothing before halftime.
Coming off halftime, however, was when MSU found its legs.
Freshman forward Zach Babiak netted his first goal of his green and white career right at the start of the half. A smooth pass off senior midfielder Louis Sala and redshirt junior defender Will Perkins flitted under the feet of Terrapin defenders before successfully bouncing from the top, to the side and into the net.
Babiak went ahead and attempted for seconds, looking to equalize the board at the 57-minute mark, but found his shot far too wide.
“Obviously the first emotion is it's special, but we were talking at half time and we wanted to get the first one back so the game could go our way,” Babiak said postgame. “It was very special but I was already thinking about getting the team together and going for the second one.”
Luckily, there was still enough time.
Chance after chance, the net was begging for MSU to find it again.
Senior midfielder Jack Beck had four total shots by the end of the night but kept arcing too high.
Graduate student midfielder Michael Miller had two attempted shots back-to-back, three total by the end of the night. With a lot of green in front of him, and an empty net as Maryland goalkeeper Niklas Neumann stumbled away, Miller's shot went just barely off target.
The hunger was there, but plays were being left incomplete.
Before fans knew it, Maryland sophomore midfielder Ben Bender tallied another point on the board and the mountain in front of the Spartans to climb grew taller.
The Spartans (6-7-2, 2-3-2 Big Ten) are set to conclude their regular season at Northwestern on Halloween. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. on the Big Ten Network.
“For a lot of us, it's going to be about getting rest (over the next 9 days)," Miller said postgame. "We have had a long season. ... Defensively, we're not too bad, but attacking, we need to do better.”
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