EAST LANSING, Mich. – No. 14 Michigan State lost their first Big Ten contest of the season and witnessed their regular season Big Ten Championship hopes become increasingly more difficult, with a 2-1 double-overtime loss to No. 17 Penn State Sunday afternoon.
The Spartans (8-2-2 overall, 1-1-1 Big Ten) dropped only their second game of the season and their eight-game unbeaten streak was snapped by the visiting Nittany Lions (9-3-1, 4-0-0).
“It sucks,” junior forward Tim Kreutz said. “I think we forgot what it feels like to lose and it does not feel good at all. Honestly, the whole game I thought we were going to win. The last (eight) games we’ve played in, and we haven’t lost, I just never thought we were going to lose. I just always thought we were going to pull it out, score that goal in overtime and the opposite happened to us today and it just doesn’t feel good.”
Penn State forward Jordan Tyler of Rochester, Michigan scored the game-winning goal less than a minute into the second overtime period. Junior defender Mike Robinson sent in a long pass to the top of the six-yard box, where Tyler one-timed the game-winner past Spartan goaltender Zach Bennett.
The Spartans took an early lead when, in the 9th minute, defender Ryan Thelen crossed the ball from midfield. The redshirt senior delivered the ball to the penalty spot, where forward Tim Kreutz headed it to the back post past 6-foot-6-inch Andrew Wolverton, to take a 1-0 lead.
Michigan State entered halftime having preserved their 1-0 lead. However, approximately five minutes after the start of the second half, Penn State would score an equalizer in the 50th minute. Goaltender Zach Bennett allowed his seventh goal of the season and only the fourth goal in eight games at DeMartin Stadium. Sophomore midfielder Drew Klingenberg ripped a shot from 25 yards out at midfield that soared over the fingers of an unsuspecting Bennett.
“(Klingenberg) took it across the field,” said Bennett. “Andrew Herr followed him well and then (Kevin) Cope stepped to him and I kind of lost sight of the ball and he hit it back post, hit it well and I just couldn’t see it in time and it ended up in the back of the net. It was unfortunate.”
MSU dropped from second to a tie for third in the Big Ten conference standings after the double-overtime loss to Penn State Sunday. Along with No.16 Northwestern’s 0-0 tie against Ohio State and Michigan’s 2-1 win over Wisconsin Sunday, No. 17 Penn State (4-0-0) currently holds first, Michigan (2-2-0) is second and No. 14 Michigan State (1-1-1) and No. 16 Northwestern (1-1-1) are tied for third in the conference.
The Spartans now begin a stretch that includes three straight road games with upcoming matchups against previous national champions and two Big Ten foes. Wednesday the Spartans head to No. 23 Akron (2010), Sunday MSU takes on Wisconsin and next Friday Michigan State travels to Indiana (2012).
“With our schedule we don’t have time to not get back on track,” said head coach Damon Rensing. “I just told them I was proud of them. If we continue to play the way we’ve played, we will win games down the stretch. I said we have to stick together and just look at your own self and say what could ‘I’ have down better to help win this game and come back focused and ready to go against Akron. I don’t think we have to change much. I don’t think there’s a panic. There are a lot of teams who would love to be 8-2-2 with a top 15 RPI in the country right now. There’s nothing to take for granted because you’ve got some really tough games. We’ve got five more games that I wouldn’t be surprised if we were 5-0 or 0-5 or anywhere in between.”
Upcoming Opponents’ NCAA Championship History
- -Champion: 2012, 2004, 2003, 1999, 1998
- -Runner-up: 2001
- -Champion: 2010
- -Runner-up: 2009
Jonathan Yales is the host of Corner Kick for Impact Sports.
Photo: David Defever