EAST LANSING, Mich. – The last five games for the Michigan State men’s soccer team have been anything but easy, and their final game of the regular season will not be any different against their rivals from Ann Arbor.
“Playing the University of Michigan, it’s going to be a big game, no matter what the circumstance is,” sophomore goalkeeper Zach Bennett said. “Doesn’t matter if we are ranked or if they are ranked, (or) both unranked.”
The Spartans are coming into Saturday’s game with a 1-1-3 record in their last five games, while the Wolverines are 4-1-0 in their last five.
“First off, for every game you throw all the records out the window, throw out all the rankings, none of that matters,” redshirt junior Ryan Kenner said. “I mean it is just us and Michigan and you know what you are going to get from that. The anticipation, you already feel it.”
The Wolverines (3-2-0) are currently sitting in third place in the Big Ten standings, but the Spartans (2-2-1) are right behind their rivals in fourth place.
Both teams have played a very similar non-conference schedule as well, with both teams each having played the University of Akron, Valparaiso University, Bowling Green State University, Oakland University, Creighton University, Marquette University, Western Michigan University and the University of Notre Dame.
The Wolverines went 3-1-4 against those teams, while the Spartans went 4-2-2, but Michigan State head coach, Damon Rensing, doesn’t believe that it gives his team any advantage in the game on Saturday.
“These games require two types of preparation, you have to manage the physical nature of the game, but you also have to manage the mental,” Rensing said. “You have to show some mental toughness and you have to be focused. You also have to just relax in these types of games. You have to relish the moment.”
Brooks Laimbeer is a multimedia journalist for Corner Kick.
Photo: David Defever