EAST LANSING, Mich. – Behind a pair of goals from senior forward Ryan Sierakowski, the No. 5 Michigan State men’s soccer stopped Rutgers in its Big Ten home opener Friday night at DeMartin Stadium.
The Spartans are now 5-0-1 in their last six Big Ten openers. MSU was the final team in the league to begin conference action. Overall, Michigan State is now 7-0-2 overall and 1-0-0 in B1G play. Rutgers falls to 1-5-1 this season and 0-2-0 in the league.
“We needed to do that. I think if you want to put yourself in a position to challenge for the Big Ten title you’ve got to win your home games. I thought Rutgers defended well. We had a first good half, unlucky probably not to get a goal or two, but then I thought Rutgers stepped up in the second half and made it a game that was very close but that’s Big Ten soccer. Teams don’t give up. I tell the guys that’s how it’s always going to be. It’s not going to be easy; it’s going to be a 2-1, 3-2, 1-0 type game,” MSU head coach Damon Rensing said.
How it happened:
The Spartans were paced by Sierakowski for most of the game. In the 19th minute, he got the MSU offense going with the first of his team-high eight shots. Ten minutes later, he was at it again but the effort was saved by Rutgers netminder Rafael Pereira,who made the first of three saves on the night. Before the half ended, Sierakowski would hit the cross bar as the half ended scoreless.
In the 64th minute, the Spartans broke through after a Scarlet Knight hand ball in the box. With a stutter step, Sierakowski delivered the penalty kick to the right side for his fourth goal of the season.
“In the first half, I was able to find the ball a little deeper and get some shots off and then in the second half they were starting to step a little higher, so the space was from behind. I forgot how the play happened but we drew a PK, and I just wanted to keep my composure, send the keeper the wrong way and I managed to score. Then the second goal DeJuan played me through on a perfect ball. I got to it and hit the back post so happy with the result,” Sierakowski said.
Michigan State doubled its lead in the 80th minute. Once again Sierakowski was in the mix. Senior forward DeJuan Jonesdelivered the long pass to Sierakowski to the right side. From there, the forward blasted a shot from eight yards out to give MSU the 2-0 advantage.
Sierakowski now takes the lead in points on the team with five goals and four assists for 14 points. Jones is second with five goals and two assists for 12 points.
Rutgers did not go down without a fight. In the 84th minute, Jordan Hall scored his fourth goal of the season with a line drive from seven yards off. Miles Hackett earned the assist on the play.
Michigan State now hits the road for its Big Ten road opener. The Spartans will travel to Penn State on Wednesday, Sept. 26 at 6 p.m. on BTN Plus.
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