EAST LANSING, Mich. – It took only 13 seconds for the Spartan offense to score one of the fastest goals in men’s soccer history on Wednesday afternoon, leading Michigan State to a 3-0 victory over the visiting Oakland University Golden Grizzlies.
The quick goal stemmed from a change in the team’s kickoff play that the Spartans’ coaching staff had implemented only a few days before.
“We ran it twice yesterday, and it didn’t work once in practice,” said Kreutz. “We just decided to go out and try it, and it worked perfectly. It just fell to my foot; the defense didn’t know what was going on. I just hit it toward goal and Jay (Chapman) was there to finish it.”
After ten minutes of play, Michigan State would build on their lead. Redshirt junior forward Tim Kreutz would tip in a Sean Conerty corner kick after the Oakland defense could not manage to clear the loose ball from danger.
Michigan State would take the 2-0 lead into halftime against a 5-3-4 Oakland team that was previously unbeaten in their last eight contests.
Almost immediately after the start of the second half, the Spartan offense was scoring again. In the 47th minute, Kreutz scored his second goal of the game when he broke away from the Grizzly defense. He went one-on-one with the goalkeeper and placed the ball in the back of the net from 15 yards out.
After the Spartans had built a 3-0 lead, both teams’ physicality and aggressiveness increased as three cards were awarded in the second half.
Junior midfielder Fatai Alashe picked up MSU’s first card of the game in the 54th minute as he was given a yellow card. Oakland defender Nick Kristock was also given a yellow card after the same play. Four minutes later, another Oakland defender, Jacob Vanderlaan, was shown a straight red for language in the 58th minute. Finally, minutes before the end of the game, Oakland goaltender, Sean Lewis, was offered the choice to sub out of the game or be shown a red card because of a subsequent yellow in the first half. The older brother of MSU freshman midfielder Dewey Lewis chose to take the referee’s offer and exit the game.
“They definitely had a good record coming in, so we knew that they were going to come out and play hard,” Kreutz said. “We’re used to chippy games; the Big Ten is always tough. If they’re going to do something that’s not in the run of play, they’re going to do something on their own. We’re going to let them do that and let the ref handle it. Damon’s (Rensing) taught us just to keep our cool, and he talks about that before the games. If we know a ref doesn’t like you saying something to him, we’ll be smart about it. We have a really smart team and we’ve dealt with it really well this year.”
The No. 14 Spartans improved to 8-1-2 and remained second in the Big Ten with a record of 1-0-1. No. 17 Penn State (8-3-1, 3-0-0) holds the top spot in the Big Ten and travels to East Lansing this Sunday.
“It’s a big game because all the Big Ten games are huge, but we are the two teams that haven’t had a loss yet,” said head coach Damon Rensing. “If they come in here and win and go 4-0-0 they certainly got a stranglehold on the regular season and we’ve got a chance to even it up and go 2-0-1, so it’ll be a great game. They’re obviously very well coached, Bob Warming does a great job and it’ll be a fun game. Hopefully the weather’s good and we get a crowd like we had last Sunday, and I think it will be an entertaining match.”
-Seven of the Spartans’ eight wins this season have been shutouts
-Through games of October 13:
-Spartans rank 6th in the nation in shutout percentage (.60)
-Spartans rank 16th in the nation in team goals against average (.66)
-Spartans rank 3rd in the nation in team save percentage (.875)
Jonathan Yales is the host of Corner Kick for Impact Sports.
Photo: David Defever