The Michigan State Spartans men’s soccer team battled back from a 2-0 deficit against the University of Maryland to secure a 2-2 draw. The Terrapins found both their goals in the first 20 minutes of the match, while the Spartans would strike twice in the second half to see the sides share the points.
Head coach Damon Rensing made only one change to his starting lineup following the 0-0 draw against the University of Michigan with senior forward Greyson Mercer stepping into the lineup for sophomore forward Jake Spadafora.
The visitors took no time grabbing the lead. In the first minute, a cut-back from freshman forward Kimani Stewart-Baynes found the feet of senior forward Stefan Copetti who had an open shot but chose not to shoot, instead he rotated the ball out wide to the right wing for a cross that was floated into the box and nodded home by freshman forward Luke Van Heukelum.
In the third minute, the Spartans looked to respond through a dangerous set piece from senior defender Elijah Howe who stood over a free kick effort from 25 yards out, smashing the dipping effort over the wall but it just glanced past the bottom left corner.
In the 16th minute, things went from bad to worse for the Spartans. Stewart-Baynes found himself one-on-one on the left flank cleverly beating his man in the 18-yard box before firing a shot at the near post, and redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Zac Kelly palmed away the initial effort before the rebounded effort was fired home by sophomore forward Max Riley to give the Terrapins a 2-0 lead early in the first half.
“I think we’re frustrated with the way we started the game," Rensing said. "Spotting Maryland two goals is not how you want to start a game.”
Nine minutes later, the Spartans got their first shot on target through Kerrigan who cut in from the left wing with some clever feet before firing a shot from 25-odd yards out that was comfortably collected by the Maryland Keeper.
Sophomore forward Jonathan Stout won a free kick for the Spartans in the 27th minute on the top of the 18-yard box after some quick feet. After some disputing from Maryland, Kerrigan stepped up to take the free kick beating the keeper, but the effort clipped off the left corner of the crossbar to deny the Spartans of a goal.
Maryland got a huge chance to extend the lead to three in the 30th minute when Baynes found the ball flashed into him while he was wide open in the 6-yard box, but he was unable to put the first-time shot on target.
In the final ten minutes of the half, the Spartans continued to dominate possession in the Maryland attacking third, but find time, and space around the 18 yard box hard to come by as they were unable to create a decisive chance.
The second half was virtually all Michigan State as the Spartans pinned Maryland back creating chance after chance, as they went searching for the needed goals in the second half.
Rensing gave credit to the different men’s soccer alumni who returned to East Lansing for Alumni Day for helping motivate his team in the second half.
“With all of our alums here, they were great coming by the bench," Rensing said. "I would give our alums an assist today. I think they pushed our guys forward in the second half.”
The Spartans came out of the gates in the second half swinging, calling on sophomore goalkeeper Mikah Seger to produce two different saves in the first two minutes.
In the 51st minute, the Spartans continued to build on the pressure through Spadafora who skipped past his marker to find himself free on the top of the 18-yard box, firing an effort towards the bottom left corner that ended up rolling just wide.
Four minutes later, Spadafora found Stout on the top of the 18-yard box as Stout skipped past one man driving into the box before Seger rushed off his line and claimed the ball from Stout's feet.
The continued pressure of the second half paid off for the Spartans when In the 58th minute senior midfielder Jack Zugay poached the ball off of the Maryland midfield before slipping Spadafora into the 18 yard box where Spadafora only needed one touch to find the back of the net and halve the deficit.
Following the Spadafora goal, the chances continued to come for the Spartans as they began to completely dominate the half.
“We told the guys the next goal is so important, once it goes 2-1 you can see the momentum flip,” Rensing said.
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The Spartans then got a huge chance to equalize in the 69th minute following a Spartan corner kick that fell to the feet of freshman defender Will Eby who was unable to keep his volleyed effort down.
In the 76th minute, the Spartans found their equalizer thanks to the head of Stout, who nodded home the cross floated into the box by Sharp. The goal was Stout's fourth of the season putting him tied for top scorer on the team.
The Spartans began to go looking for the win, when in the 77th minute Zugay found himself in the Maryland 18 yard box twisting, and turning his man before he tried to curl an effort into the top right corner that glanced just over the crossbar.
In the 83rd minute, the Spartans got their chance at a third point. Sharp slipped Kerrigan down the right flank who looked to cross the ball in before cutting it back and floating a ball into the back post that met the head of freshman forward Richie Ludwig who was unable to direct the chance on target from six yards out.
The Spartans will head to Evanston, Illinois to face off against the top of the Big Ten Conference, Northwestern on Friday, Oct. 20th at 8 p.m. ET. With streaming available on Big Ten Plus.
“It’s a really tough environment … It’ll be a tough place to play, but it’ll be a chance to maybe move top of the league, so it’ll be tough like every Big Ten game,” Rensing said.
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