MSU men’s soccer set for final exhibition match against Pittsburgh


MSU soccer plays at DeMartin Stadium/ Photo Credit: MSU Athletic Communications

Luca Melloni, Sports Editorial Assistant

EAST LANSING – The Michigan State men’s soccer team will play its third and final preseason exhibition game against No.7 Pittsburgh on Friday, Aug. 19. The Spartans won its first exhibition game against Lawrence Tech University but fell 1-0 to Butler in the second game at DeMartin Stadium. 

With six first-year students and a handful of returning players, head coach Damon Rensing sees a promising side that awaits another competitive Big Ten conference.

“I thought that the young guys showed that they weren’t afraid of the moment,” Rensing said after the 3-0 win over Lawrence Tech. “We have things on video now that we can go back and really work on our guys to get better.” 

Freshman midfielder Jonathan Stout, senior defender Conner George and sophomore striker Efosa Emovon were on the scoresheet against Lawrence Tech to welcome the fans back to DeMartin Stadium. 

Stout’s right-footed volley in the sixth minute gave the Spartans an early lead and Emovon’s second-half goal ended the game at 3-0. 

“There are a lot of guys that are ambitious and want to take this season on our own terms, not just let it come to us,” returning graduate midfielder and captain Jack Beck said. “It’s really humbling to get to play one more year.”

Beck was a freshman in the 2018 MSU side that made it to the semifinal of the NCAA DI tournament and finished third in the Big Ten conference. The 2018 team included former Spartan and current New England Revolution star DeJuan Jones. 

“Jack (Beck) sees the game not just for what he has to do, but what the rest of the guys on the field need to do,” Rensing said. “There’s a correlation between the classroom and the field, and there’s a reason why he’s one of our smartest soccer players and one of our best students.” 

Beck, Kellan Landefeld, Kadin Shaban and Connor Brazil represented the Spartans as four of the Big Ten Distinguished Scholars last year. 

Last season, Beck ranked third in assists in the conference, collecting seven assists and one goal in 2021. Beck and Farai Mutatu combined for eight goals and 10 assists, leading the Spartans to a 6-9-2 record in all competitions. 

In the spring, Mutatu was drafted 21st overall to the Los Angeles Galaxy in the 2022 MLS SuperDraft. 

Although the Spartans lost its leading goalscorer, senior forward Gianni Ferri believes that he and his teammates can pick up where Mutatu left off. 

“Farai (Mutatu) was a huge loss but when one door closes, another opens,” Ferri said. “It’s our time to fill that void, and tonight was a good start.”

The Spartans open the regular season against Army West Point on Aug. 26 and will play its first conference game against No.13 Indiana in Bloomington on Sept. 23. 

In between those matches, the Spartans will play three away games, including a west coast trip to the University of Washington, which currently rank third in the United Soccer Coaches preseason poll

But first, MSU has its last preseason test against Pittsburgh, who finished last season tied for the most points (16) in the ACC with Duke. The Panthers were knocked out in the third round of the NCAA DI tournament by Notre Dame in a penalty shootout after the game ended 1-1 in overtime. 

Kickoff at DeMartin Stadium against Pittsburgh is scheduled for 7 pm on Friday, Aug.19.