EAST LANSING, Mich. — On Friday night, No. 6 Michigan State faced off against No. 3 Maryland in the Big Ten home opener at DeMartin Stadium. The match ended in a 0-0 tie after two over-time periods.
In a battle of top offenses verse top defenses, the first half was exactly that, a battle. With a combined 13 shots, the Spartans and Terps traded possessions and created quality chances. Spartan goaltender Jimmy Hague was forced to make two saves in the half.
“They’re a good team, they got their offense going, then I thought we settled down and got on the ball and we created a couple chances. I thought after the first twenty minutes it was a fairly even game with some good chances.
“That was a pretty high level college soccer game. I think it was an exciting 0-0 game. It was a good performance, both teams. “You always want to win at home, but I thought it was a fair result,” coach Damon Rensing said postgame.
Ryan Sierakowski and DeJuan Jones both created several chances for the Spartans in the first half, but none found the back of the net.
“We’re confident we’re gonna get chances like we showed,” Sierakowski said. “We create chances and we’re great in the back line, it’s just a matter of executing. Just clean it up and we’re confident they’re going to keep coming.”
The second half began in the same way with both MSU and UMD trading possessions.
A dangerous chance came for Maryland in the 60th minute when a Gordon Wild shot was saved by Hague. However, Eryk Williamson got the rebound in front of the net and fired another shot on goal. Hague was able to make a highlight reel one-handed save to escape going down 1-0.
“Everybody was composed, from me to the back line to our forwards. It was just a whole team effort to get the result and get a shutout,” Hague said. “Goals are tough to score, especially in the Big Ten. It’s a little bit of pressure, but we can handle it.”
Michigan State held onto possession for quite a bit in the last fifteen minutes of regulation, but the Spartans could not translate that possession into shots on goal. Several opportunities were missed causing an 0-0 scoreline at the end of regulation and forcing the game into overtime.
This was the second overtime game in a row for the Spartans after they merely defeated rival Michigan in a double overtime thriller in Ann Arbor.
“It gave us a lot of confidence. Being able to score a game-winner in overtime, we knew going into this overtime that we could do it again,” Hague said. “We were pushing for it in that second OT, we just got unlucky and didn’t get a goal. We’re okay with a tie.”
Michigan State’s defense might have bent in the match, but they did not break. Able to shut down the Big Ten’s leading scorer in Wild, the Spartan’s defense tallied their sixth shutout in seven games.
“It’s a special group of guys. We only lost one guy last year, but John (Frietag) came in and transitioned seamlessly and I think we just pride ourselves on defending especially,” senior defender Jimmy Fiscus said. “The whole team has chemistry, but I mean the back line is willing to fight to be the best back line in the country.”
The matchup against No.6 Maryland was the final of a three-game stretch against ranked opponents.
“It’s a great self-esteem builder for sure and it was a great challenge. It was three great teams, and all Big Ten games are going to be hard like that, whether they’re ranked top ten or not even ranked at all,” Fiscus said. “So I think it was a good challenge for us, and I think it will prepare us well for the upcoming Big Ten games and the big out of conference games too.”
Moving forward, Rensing hopes the goals will match the chances that are being created.
“We’re gonna have to eventually score a couple more goals. I mean we’re doing a great job obviously keeping them out of the net, but I think that’s one of the things to keep working on and keep finishing our chances,” he said.
The Spartans will take on the Akron Zips at Akron in their next game on September 27th at 7:30 p.m.