Seven Spartans make debut in loss to Rutgers

Michigan State midfielder Vedad Kovac (Photo: MSU Athletic Communications)

Michigan State midfielder Vedad Kovac (Photo: MSU Athletic Communications)

Ian Gilmour, Men's Soccer Beat Reporter

LIVONIA, Mich. — Michigan State finally returned to the field after a 467-day hiatus, but did so in lackluster fashion.

A performance that lacked a cutting edge ended in a 2-0 defeat to Rutgers, one of only three teams the Spartans beat last season. 

MSU head coach Damon Rensing used his bench, playing 18 different players throughout the 90 minutes, many of which saw their first competitive action as Spartans. Of the 18 players who saw time for MSU, seven made their debuts. 

“I’m excited about the group,” Rensing said. “I think we’ve got some parts there.”

One of the newcomers that stood out and did well in the second half was freshman Vedad Kovac. The playmaker from Georgia, who also has caps for the U-19 Bosnia and Herzegovina national team came to MSU after he scored 17 goals and had 14 assists in his shortened eight-game senior high school season.

Kovac took a while to settle into the match, but improved mightily in the second half. 

“(Kovac) was a little bit invisible in the first half but started to come alive in the second when he found some more space,” Rensing said.

Kovac was happy to finally get that first game under his belt.

“It was a special moment to get out there for the first time,” Kovac said. “It felt good to get out there and be with the team.”

Follow Ian Gilmour on Twitter at @IanGilmour04.