Spartans Create Chances, Just Can’t Finish

In a game which Michigan State controlled most of the possession, the Spartans could not put one in the back of the net against Rutgers University, eventually finishing in a 0-0 tie.

From the start of the game, the Spartans brought relentless pressure on the Scarlet Knight defense, earning 12 set pieces in the entire first half, nine of those being corner kicks.

Jason Stacy was whipping great balls in there,” redshirt senior defender, Ryan Keener said. “Our runs were pretty good. We were making contact, getting to the spots and sometimes that’s just the way it is. We’ll work on it. Try to get a little better. Sometimes you just need a bounce here or there.”

Keener and junior defender, Zach Carroll, had multiple opportunities to score off set pieces, but Michigan State’s best scoring opportunity came in the 25th minute off a corner kick which found the head of senior midfielder, Fatai Alashe, who hit the crossbar then the ball deflected off a Rutgers defender and into the side post and was then cleared by the Scarlet Knight defense.

“If you create that many chances, more times than not, you are going to score some goals,” head coach Damon Rensing said. “I think in this game, had one of them went in in the first half I think you might have seen a couple more go in.”

The Scarlet Knights did hold their own offensively and created chances that put the Spartans under pressure.

Their best opportunity in the first half came off a free kick in the 15th minute from sophomore midfielder, Erik Sa, who struck a curling shot from 30 yards out that forced junior goalkeeper, Zach Bennett, to make a diving save in the air to his left.

“It felt like I had the most action out there for the whole season, even though we played pretty solid,” Bennett said. “They’re a good attacking team to their credit. I had to work a little bit, but I don’t mind that.”

The pressure from the Spartans continued in the second half, and again they had their set piece chances, but none better than a free kick at the top of Rutgers’ 18-yard-box in the 69th minute, when Carroll struck a hard shot right into the chest of sophomore goalkeeper, David Greczek.

After 90 minutes of play, Michigan State headed into their second overtime match of the season tied 0-0, but the scoring chances were still abundant through the next 20 minutes.

In the first overtime period the Spartans best scoring opportunity would come when, sophomore midfielder, Dewey Lewis, found Stacy on a cross toward the back post, which he would get a foot on, but the Rutgers defense cleared it for a corner.

In the second overtime period, both teams had good looks as Stacy had a look from 12 yards with six minutes left, but he could not get his feet underneath it and he poked it wide of the goal.

“Dewey made a really good run down the line on the right side,” junior midfielder Stacy said. “Adam (Montague) made a hard run to the near post which opened up space for me around the 12, and Dewey played it exactly the way it should be. I didn’t have anyone around me and the ball comes right to me and take a touch and it’s just too much underneath my feet. I have to stab for it and it’s just a missed opportunity.”

On the other end of the field, three minutes later, redshirt junior, JP Correa, had an open look and curled the ball toward the far post and the shot clinged off the outside of the post.

“I saw him hit it and there was a couple guys in front of me, I didn’t really see it,” Bennett said. “Apparently it skimmed Zach (Carroll) in the chest and he kind of forced it a little bit wide, but I never really saw it until it got passed Zach.”

With less than a minute left in the second overtime, Michigan State would catch the Scarlet Knights on the break as freshman defender, Jimmy Fiscus, dribbled the ball all the way down the field into Rutgers’ box and found senior forward, Adam Montague, at the top of the 18 who hit a shot that went wide of the goal.

“Outside of the goal column, I think the guys played really well in a lot of areas and that’s a good attacking team,” Rensing said. “We created more than enough chances and unfortunately that ball doesn’t want to go over the (goal line) and we could have played for another hour and maybe not have gotten one.”

The Spartans will have five days off to rest and recuperate until their next game on Oct. 4 at 7 p.m. in Columbus, Ohio against the Ohio State Buckeyes, who are 2-3-3 overall and have three points in conference play.

Brooks Laimbeer is the host of Corner Kick for Impact Sports.

Photo: Hannah McEnroe/Impact Sports