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Spartans remain undefeated after 88th minute equalizer

September 27, 2023
<p>MSU midfielder Jack Guggemos (left) and Oakland midfielder Mohamed Hammoud race to the ball at DeMartin Soccer Complex on Sept. 26, 2023. Hammoud recorded one assist in the matchup against Michigan State.</p>

MSU midfielder Jack Guggemos (left) and Oakland midfielder Mohamed Hammoud race to the ball at DeMartin Soccer Complex on Sept. 26, 2023. Hammoud recorded one assist in the matchup against Michigan State.

The No. 13 Spartans remain undefeated after sharing the points against in-state competitors Oakland University with the match ending 2-2 to extend the Spartans undefeated start to the season.

Head coach Damon Rensing made three changes to his lineup following their 2-1 Big Ten win against Indiana. Handing starts to sophomore forward Kyle Schueneman and junior midfielder Sean Kerrigan, while also giving freshman midfielder Colin Arce his first collegiate start. 

Sophomore defender Jeremy Sharp, sophomore midfielder Cristiano Bruletti and sophomore forward Jake Spadafora would make way, starting the match on the bench.

The first chance of the match fell to the visitors in the eighth minute from a cross that was whipped into top of the six yard box. It was directed on target by an Oakland player before redshirt sophomore Zac Kelly produced a brilliant flash save at his near post to bat the ball away.

The Spartans began to work themselves into the game in the 14th minute as junior midfielder Sean Kerrigan found himself isolated on the left flank flashing a ball across the six yard box, yet no one was able to apply the finishing touch.

Just two minutes later the Spartans got another big chance when Sylvester of Oakland caused his keeper some trouble with a soft back pass that was cut out by sophomore forward Jonathan Stout. Stout looked to round the keeper before being stopped by a last ditch tackle from Sly JR.

In the 19th minute, the visiting team opened up scoring when Donavan Phillip of Oakland found himself on the left wing before whipping a ball into the box. Sophomore redshirt Zac Kelly batted it away before the ball fell to the feet of Oakland's Owen Smith, who fired home the rebounded attempt to give the visitors the lead.

Following the goal, the Grizzlies made a clear change to their tactics — electing to drop more men back and lower their defensive line in an attempt to protect their lead. This proved to be successful, as the Grizzlies virtually shut out the Spartans for the remainder of the half.

Just three minutes into the second half, the Spartans got their chance to equalize. 

Following sophomore forward Jake Spadafora getting taken down in the box, junior midfielder Sean Kerrigan stepped up to take the penalty. Oakland keeper Sly JR dropped down to his left to produce the save.

The Spartans continued to push for their equalizer in the 55th minute after some remarkable build up play around the box. Sophomore forward Jake Spadafora found the ball at his feet on the top of the 18 yard box, pulling his effort just wide of the left post.

In the 61st minute, sophomore defender Jeremy Sharp went bursting down the right flank, making his way down the byline before cutting it back for freshman forward Richie Ludwig. Ludwig took a touch to set himself before trying to shape one in the top right corner that went just over the crossbar. The Spartans continued to create chances with no goal to show.

“I think it’s a bit of everything, scoring goals in soccer is the hardest thing to do. Their keeper made a couple very good saves. Sometimes the ball just doesn’t bounce your way,” Rensing said.

In the 68th minute, the Grizzlies got their first chance of the half. Owen Smith cut to his left foot before firing a curling effort off the crossbar that looked set to nestle itself in the back of the net.

Just three minutes later, the Spartans found their long-awaited equalizer, thanks to high pressing from sophomore forward Jake Spadafora, who poached the ball off the Oakland center back before running in on goal, sending the Oakland keeper the wrong way to equalize.

The Grizzlies were quick to respond, restoring their lead just a minute and 20 seconds later, as Andrew Darakdijan who found the back of the net from 10 yards out off a header.

In the final ten minutes, the Spartans continued to push for a goal — getting in a number of dangerous positions, but never seeming to execute the final decisive ball.

It wasn't until the 88th minute when a corner kick went into the box bouncing around before finding the head of sophomore forward Jonathan Stout who nodded home the equalizer to draw the Spartans level — keeping their unbeaten start to the season alive.

“For the way we performed coming off of a huge win on Friday night, and a Big Ten game on Sunday, I’m proud of the resolve of this group,” Rensing said. “These guys got each others back, and they play for each other. They don’t give up.”

The Spartans will be back in action Sunday, as both teams are set to face Penn State at home. The women's team will kick off at noon, with the men's team following at 3 p.m. ET. Streaming will be available on Big Ten Plus.

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