Michigan State men's soccer took a break from conference play as it hosted Saint Mary’s for its Breast Cancer Awareness game on Tuesday night. The Spartans wore pink ribbon pins to bring attention to the cause.
The last time the Spartans faced the Saint Mary’s Gaels (5-4-2) was in 1999 when MSU emerged victorious (1-0).
Tuesday was Saint Mary’s 8th consecutive road game.
MSU came in hot with a goal from redshirt senior defender Will Perkins.
Perkins kicked the ball to the left corner, hitting the post before making its way into the net. Perkins was assisted by fellow graduate student midfielder Jack Beck.
“Louis bounced it back to Jack on a throw in and Jack whipped it over," Perkins said. "I was thinking about cutting in on my left but then I took it to my right and finished it across the goal. Jack and I have been waiting for that since we’ve been at MSU so it was good to see that go in."
This was the first time Perkins has scored in over a month after being out for two and a half weeks with an injury.
Three minutes later, Beck returned for a goal of his own, sending the ball into the bottom right of the net.
“Coming out in the first half, we were coming off a response game and wanted to come out strong, press them and put them under a bit of pressure,” Beck said. “That’s exactly what we did. We got an early goal and we didn’t back off. The second one came and i was fortunate enough to get that one.”
The rest of the half was a slow-go. When asked about the message from the coach at the half, “Keep the lead,” Perkins said. “If we can get one more, that changes the game, but the weather’s a factor so we need to keep that out of our mind and keep fighting."
The Gaels returned strong after the half, buckling down on defense and becoming more aggressive down the field.
With 20 minutes left in the game, Saint Mary’s senior forward Greg Brighton knocked away Finnerty’s chance at a shutout, sending the ball to the top right of the net.
“I thought towards the end I don’t know if it was tired legs but we got a little sloppy," Head Coach Damon Rensing said. "Saint Mary’s is a good team. They're well coached and didn’t come all the way out here from California to just hop on the bus. They’re gonna come back and fight and they did.”
The green and white held onto their lead through the end of the game, finishing their final non-conference game of the season 2-1. Goalkeeper Owen Finnerty totaled three saves in the second half. Four shots were attempted on goal, but MSU failed to follow through.
The Spartans (5-5-2) will pick back up on Big Ten play on Sunday as they host Rutgers. Kickoff is at 2 p.m.
“This is a monster game," Rensing said. "As far as the Big Ten goes, it’s a massive game. They’re good, well coached. We put some really good spells together, it’ll take us to put a full 90 together and the team that can do that's got a chance to win the game.”
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