EAST LANSING, Mich. – No. 7 Michigan State men’s soccer opened the 2018 season with an exhibition win against Spring Arbor, 2-0, Friday afternoon at DeMartin Stadium.
In the first of a trio of exhibitions, the Spartans played three 30-minute periods against the Cougars. Michigan State used 23 different players, including three different goalkeepers. Overall, MSU out-shot Spring Arbor, 11-5, while the Spartans had three saves all by redshirt-freshman Hunter Morse. Big Ten Goalkeeper of the Year Jimmy Hague played the first 47 minutes, while senior Zach Kovan saw 14 minutes of action in goal.
“I think the biggest key is that we didn’t have any surprises. You know the guys practiced four times in the last two days, nobody played for more than 45 minutes, and we had 21 field players play,” MSU head coach Damon Rensing said. “I think we kept it relatively decent level for all 90 minutes with 20 different players we want guys to learn the system. We played split squad, so a couple of our returning forwards scored goals, you always like to see that, we hit the post a couple of times. I think you have to give some credit to Spring Arbor. They’re a well-coached team and they’ve got 22, 23-year-old players that are good, and we’ve got some young guys that are just coming in. It was a good test for us.”
How It Happened
Both teams were finding their way early in the first period. Michigan State took seven shots in the first period, and it was the last shot of the period that gave MSU the 1-0 advantage. Senior forward and All-Big Ten honoree Ryan Sierakowski fittingly scored the first Spartan goal of the season. Sophomore midfielder Michael Miller got a long pass to Sierakowski, who found the back of the net from 14 yards out.
In the second period, neither team was able to find the back of the net, despite MSU taking five corner kicks.
The Spartans doubled their lead to 2-0 in the 69th minute. Senior forward DeJuan Jones, who is also a returning All-B1G honoree, scored for the first time this season from inside the six off of a pass from the right by senior midfielder Robbie Cort.
Morse saw the most action in net, making three saves in the final 30 minutes of play in front of a stellar MSU defense that allowed only five shots.
Michigan State is back in action on Monday, Aug. 13 against another in-state foe. The Spartans will host a familiar foe in No. 14 Western Michigan. Last season, MSU and WMU met twice once in East Lansing and once in Kalamazoo with the Spartans capturing wins in both games.
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