Sunday, December 4, 2022

MSU men's soccer holds three game losing streak heading into annual game against Bowling Green

September 9, 2022
<p>Junior forward Greyson Mercer (9) kicks the ball. MSU fell to Western Michigan 1-0 on Sept. 1, 2022.</p>

Junior forward Greyson Mercer (9) kicks the ball. MSU fell to Western Michigan 1-0 on Sept. 1, 2022.

Photo by Sheldon Krause | The State News

MSU Men’s soccer is off to a rocky start to the season after their third consecutive loss, most recently to No. 10 Akron this past Monday, leaving MSU 1-3-0 heading into their game at Bowling Green on Friday. 

“I thought it was a pretty high level game with a lot of good soccer played by both sides,” Head Coach Damon Rensing said. “We had a costing mistake in the first half. Akron’s a good team with some good attacking pieces and they’re gonna punish you for mistakes.”

Akron Sophomore midfielder Johnny Fitzgerald scored a goal after a turnover early on in the first half.

“We were disappointed to give them the goal in the first half, but mistakes happen and you move on,” senior goalkeeper Owen Finnerty said. “Overall I think we played well and forced them to turn around. We had our chances, but they capitalized on their chances as well.”

Up until the final five minutes of the game, the score read 1-0, but the Spartans fell short and were unable to make the comeback.

In a moment of weakness, Akron freshman forward Jason Shokalook added a goal for the Zips off of a corner kick, sealing the loss for the Spartans with a 2-0 final game score.

“Obviously if you give up a set piece on a corner, it’s tough to concede that way. We were pushing pretty hard by the end of the game and the guys were pretty gassed to get that goal back,” Finnerty said. “I think we defended well and it’s just one of those things where you lose focus for two seconds as a team and they’re able to put it away.”

Moving forward

For Michigan State, it’s all about learning from mistakes and applying it in the future. Following the Labor Day loss, MSU’s been gearing up for their final game of a back-to-back road series at Bowling Green (0-2-2) on Sept. 9. 

“We need to win at whatever cost," graduate midfielder Jack Beck said. "I know it’s going to be a Friday night game with their alumni there and a lot of people really wanting to win. Our goal is to go out there, disrupt their game and come out with three points. That’s the most important thing." 

The last time the Spartans faced the Falcons was September 2021 when Bowling Green emerged victorious, 3-0 -- the first time Bowling Green beat MSU since 2001. 

“We’ve got a few guys that can help us," Rensing said when asked about the strikers he feels most confident with going into Friday’s game. "I think Jake Spadafora’s been pretty sharp and dangerous, Greyson Mercer, Vedad Kovac. Depending on the moments, those guys can all help us.”

MSU’s working to shift their mindset and turn the score around on Friday, despite obstacles like Bowling Green’s alumni weekend and their home advantage. 

The season’s starting to pick up, especially following this week's matchups. MSU will return to DeMartin to host Chicago State for their final home non-conference game. Then, the Spartans will travel to Washington on Sept. 16, followed by the start of conference play in Bloomington, Indiana on Sept. 23. 

“Our number one focus is on Friday, one game at a time," Finnerty said. "These are two games that we know we can win and we’re confident going into. After a bit of a tough start, the guys are motivated to get back to where we think we can be and going into the Big Ten we want to be above 500.”

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