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Preview: MSU men's soccer heads to Ohio State to jump into Big Ten Tournament play

November 3, 2022

The Spartans took on the St.Mary's Gaels at DeMartin Stadium on October 11. The spartans ultimately took victory 2-1 over the Gaels.

After falling to Maryland, Ohio State and, most recently, Northwestern, Michigan State men's soccer aims to rewrite the score. It won't be an easy task though, squaring up against the second-seeded Ohio State (9-2-5) in Columbus in the opening round of the Big Ten Tournament Friday night. 

“We win or we go home,” graduate student midfielder Jack Beck said. “That’s enough motivation for the guys, we want to keep our season going. We’ve put a lot of work into this year, a lot of emotions, lots of highs and lows and we’re not ready for it to end. We’ve got a lot more soccer to play.”

The 2022 men’s soccer squad has endured its share of ups and downs this season from taking down Michigan and stealing back the Big Bear Trophy, only to then fall to Northwestern on senior night – wrapping up the regular season. 

“I think we had some really good moments and showed some really good signs,” Head Men's Soccer Coach Damon Rensing said, “Maybe a couple games we'd like to have back but that’s soccer.” 

The 2022 schedule hasn’t been a picnic for the Spartans either. They’ve faced powerhouse teams that kept MSU on its toes. Rensing said it has only benefited the team in the long term.

“From last year, I think we’re scoring a lot more goals,” Rensing said. “As a group that’s good. I like our goalkeeping right now and I think this young group and older group has come together. It’s been a fun group to work with, I think they play for each other and when it comes to this time of year that will go a long way.”

MSU suffered a recent 2-1 loss to then-No. 13 Ohio State on the road last week. The Spartans fell behind 2-0 early in the second half, cut the lead in half in the 65th minute, but couldn't rally enough for the road upset. 

“We’ve gotta be a little sharper, pay a little more attention to details but I like where this group’s at,” Rensing said.

Buckeyes senior goalkeeper and Notre Dame Transfer Keagan McLaughlin remain between the posts, an opponent MSU struggled to get the ball past last week. McLaughlin has played 1080 minutes this season, starting in 12 of OSU's 16 games this season.

Other players to look for are junior midfielder Laurence Wootton and sophomore midfielder Anthony Samways. Wootton leads the Buckeyes in goals totaling five this season. Samways holds the most assists (6) and consistently dominates the field, playing in all 16 OSU games. 

With NCAA and Big Ten Tournament experience, Rensing looks to senior goalkeeper Owen Finnerty to be a team leader come Friday's matchup.

Rensing said he’s counting on a win at Ohio State to give the necessary momentum to propel MSU into the rest of the tournament. 

Meanwhile, the men’s team isn’t the only MSU soccer team playing a meaningful game in Columbus. The MSU women’s soccer team and regular season champions will be playing on Thursday at 2 p.m. against Nebraska in the semifinals at Lower.com Field.

Beck said the success of MSU’s women’s team this season has been a major motivation to the rest of the program and MSU Athletics as a whole. 

“It’s really exciting, especially for them coming off so many wins this year and such an exciting season,” Beck said. “It’s definitely brought a lot of attention to Michigan State soccer both men’s and women’s. It will be fun to go this weekend, they’ll be down in Columbus as well. Michigan State’s gonna be going strong in Ohio and hopefully leave with a lot of points.”

The men's kickoff will be at 7 p.m. Friday to determine the fate of MSU's 2022 season.

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