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MSU men's soccer falls to Ohio State in first round of Big Ten Tournament

November 4, 2023
Senior midfielder Jacob Cromer (15) passing the ball during a game against Ohio State at the DeMartin Soccer Stadium on Nov. 3, 2023.
Senior midfielder Jacob Cromer (15) passing the ball during a game against Ohio State at the DeMartin Soccer Stadium on Nov. 3, 2023.

The Spartans were eliminated in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament by sixth-seed Ohio State. The two sides battled to a 1-0 scoreline that saw Ohio State allow just one shot on target thanks to a dominant defensive performance.

Head coach Damon Rensing made three changes to his starting lineup from the match against Drake. Senior midfielder Jacob Cromer came in for sophomore midfielder Kyle Schueneman, freshman midfielder Colin Arce was rested in favor of sophomore midfielder Cristiano Bruletti, and freshman forward Richie Ludwig started as junior midfielder Sean Kerrigan started on the bench.

The Buckeyes came out of the gate looking the more aggressive of the two sides earning the first chance of the match. In the fifth minute, sophomore midfielder Luciano Pechota slipped a pass to senior defender Deylen Vellios but his cutback was unable to find any Buckeye runners in the box.

In the 12th minute, the Spartans had their first sight of goal. Sophomore defender Jeremy Sharp found himself on the left flank clipping a ball into the Buckeye's back post for Ludwig who would rise to win the header but failed to direct it on target.

The next chance for the Spartans came in the 25th minute. Sharp lofted a free kick deep into the Buckeye's box that would be cleared away rolling to the feet of Sharp who fired an effort from 35 yards out that just whistled past the right post.

In the 32nd minute, the Buckeyes went looking for a goal through Pechota again. Junior midfielder Michael Adedokun found Pechota on the left wing who slipped past Sharp before firing a shot that went just wide of the right post.

In the final 13 minutes of the first half, both sides’ back lines dominated as neither team managed to fashion a clear chance or shot in the final minutes of the first half.

The first action of the second half came in the 49th minute when Vellios fired a pass into the feet of senior midfielder Parker Grinstead who turned and ran at his marker before winning Ohio State the first corner kick of the match.

The Buckeyes looked dangerous again in the 51st minute. Grinstead found himself on the right wing with time, picking out a free Pechota at the back post with a dangerous cross but Pechota was unable to direct his effort on target.

The pressure of the Buckeyes in the second half paid off in the 53rd minute. Grinstead found himself on the left flank this time, cutting onto his favored right foot to float a cross into the Spartan box that was won by sophomore midfielder Marko Borkovic whose headed effort called on redshirt sophomore Zac Kelly to make the save before freshman midfielder Andre Roberts arrived to smash home the rebounded effort from a yard out to give the Buckeyes the lead.

In the 62nd minute, the Spartans had their only sight of goal. Sophomore midfielder Jack Guggemos found the feet of Ludwig who flicked a pass into the run of Stout, as Stout would be one-on-one with redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Max Trejo before being tackled at the last moment.

With the lead, the Buckeyes buckled down as they looked to protect their lead seeing out a half that only saw the Spartans register a shot on target from a flicked-on header as they closed out a dominant second-half performance.

“That was a really good playoff game that came down to one or two plays. Credit to Ohio State I think they made a play… We just lacked a little bit of quality in the final third.” Rensing said after the match.

The final action of the match came in the 82nd minute, Pechota found himself in behind as he fired a shot that deflected off of Bruletti before bouncing off the Spartan post for a corner. Moments later the Buckeyes got another chance. Adedokun drove at the Spartan 18-yard box as he prepared to shoot before being tackled at the last moment by senior defender Elijah Howe.

The Men’s Soccer team now awaits to find out if they will participate in the 2023 NCAA Tournament. The selection show is set to take place on Nov. 13 with Head Coach Rensing expecting to be a part of the tournament.

“The seasons not over… there’s the NCAA tournament and we’re right smack in the middle of it. We’ve got huge wins against big opponents on the road so that’s what I’m focused on” Rensing said.

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