Tuesday, October 4, 2022

MSU men's soccer seeks out victory to jump-start Big Ten play

September 23, 2022
<p>Sophomore forward Zach Babiak (11) goes for a header during an MSU and Chicago State University men's soccer game at DeMartin field on Sept. 12, 2022. The Spartans defeated the Cougars 4-1.</p>

Sophomore forward Zach Babiak (11) goes for a header during an MSU and Chicago State University men's soccer game at DeMartin field on Sept. 12, 2022. The Spartans defeated the Cougars 4-1.

Photo by Jack Patton | The State News

After a challenging non-conference run, Michigan State looks to capitalize on Big Ten play.

The Spartans will travel to Indiana to take on the Hoosiers on Friday at 7:30 p.m. for MSU’s Big Ten season opener. Indiana started its conference season with a 2-1 loss last weekend at Ohio State. This will be the Hoosiers' Big Ten home opener.

“The Big Ten is in a new season so what better opportunity than to play a top program like Indiana who has historically had control of the league,” Head Coach Damon Rensing said. “We’re excited for this opportunity."

The last time MSU faced Indiana was on Sept. 26. 2021 when Indiana emerged victorious (1-0). It wasn’t until the 47th minute when Indiana’s freshman midfielder Patrick McDonald scored off a deflection as the ball slid past MSU’s goalkeeper at the time, senior Hunter Morse

MSU took 16 total shots that game, six of which were at goal. The game consisted of five corner kicks and seven fouls on the Spartans.

Indiana is ranked No. 16 in the country with wins over St. Johns, Akron and Butler. Michigan State fell to Akron 2-0 at the beginning of the month.

MSU is looking to improve upon past errors and implement what’s been learned from its non-conference schedule this year. 

Without the home team advantage at a school with the No. 2 game attendance in the Big Ten, the Spartans are going to need to bring their A-game to Bill Armstrong Stadium.

“We’ve been fine tuning some things,” Rensing said. “Making sure our shape’s good defensively, continuing to work on some offensive executions and continuing to find to the right pairs and wings on the field.”

Players who have stood out this season thus far include redshirt senior defender Will Perkins and freshman midfielder Jack Guggemos. Both have scored season highs of two goals​ this season. Perkins has had two assists, tied for the season-best with junior forward Greyson Mercer.

Another Spartan who’s turning heads is freshman defender Jeremy Sharp. Sharp, a native of Roseville, has had all eyes on him this season.

Sharp has appeared in all seven games with a season-high of 59 minutes on the field against Bowling Green on Sept. 9.

Sharp had one assist from MSU’s second game versus Notre Dame on Aug. 29, when he sent the ball to junior midfielder Vedad Kovac to secure one of two goals of the game.

“I think Jeremy’s got a really great future,” Rensing said. “I think he’s a prototypical right back like he's good on the ball, he can really get up to good speed. His transitions are good ... he impacts the game when he's on."

When asked about the recruiting process, “He’s from Michigan but was playing for Sporting Kansas City down there,” Rensing said. “Sometimes you're placed behind a pro, so it was tougher for him to get into some lineups but every time we saw him he was good.

“It took some patience on his end in the recruiting process and on ours, but I think we got to the right match in terms of him being a Spartan and us really wanting him in this program,” Rensing said. “We all felt really good about it ... we knew how important he would be for our program.”

Sharp and the rest of the team will travel to Bloomington on Friday in hopes of a win to fire up Big Ten play. Indiana's matchup will be followed by a rivalry game versus Michigan in East Lansing at 6 p.m. on Sept. 27.

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