A young Wisconsin Badgers team surprised the Spartans early, but in the end the experience of Michigan State gave them the 2-1 win.
Within the first minute of the game, the Badgers earned a free kick on the left side of MSU’s 18-yard-box, 30 yards out from goal.
Sophomore midfielder, Drew Conner, played the free kick short to freshman forward, Mark Segbers, who whipped in a hard cross inside the six-yard-box and sophomore defender, Matej Radonic, headed the ball into the back of the net to give the Badgers a 1-0 lead in the second minute.
“I thought we had set up well for a short corner,” junior goalkeeper, Zach Bennett said. “I saw that they had two guys out there, not necessarily something what we expected. We heard that they were a little more direct in their free kicks. The guy gets a short [pass], cuts it back and whips a good ball in and when it’s low and whipped it’s hard to see and they got a good head on it.”
Wisconsin had most of the possession in the first half, but in the last 10 minutes of the first half, Michigan State started to put pressure on the Badger defense, but just a few corner kicks came from the pressure.
“At halftime we just said that we want to come out the way we finished (the first half) and I don’t think they were ready for it,” junior defender, Zach Carroll said.”
The Spartans began to find open spaces in the Badger defensive line, and in the 46th minute, junior midfielder, Jay Chapman, found senior forward, Adam Montague, on a through-ball inside the box that Montague just could not get a touch on to finish it in the back of the net.
Michigan State had another chance three minutes later. Senior midfielder, Fatai Alashe, dribbled down the right side of the field, beat his defender, then cut back towards the goal to keep the ball from going out of bounds and as he took a touch inside the box, he was fouled by a Wisconsin defender.
Alashe earned a penalty kick, but due to sustaining an injury during the process, he could not take the penalty kick. Carroll stepped up and buried the shot right into the left side of the goal to tie the game at 1-1 in the 50th minute.
“Damon [Rensing] told me to go take [the PK] and I tried to put the goalie off by looking to the left but he didn’t bite, and I put too much power on it for him to get it,” Carroll said.
The Badgers would not step down. Two minutes later, freshman forward, Tom Barlow, chested down a ball at the top of the 18-yard-box and hit it first time which forced Bennett to make a diving stop.
The Spartans countered off the missed opportunity from the Badgers as sophomore midfielder, Dewey Lewis, found Chapman in the center of the Wisconsin defensive third and then found Montague for a through ball inside the box, which Montague poked past freshman goalkeeper, Adrian Remeniuk, to give Michigan State the 2-1 lead in the 54th minute.
“It’s been few and far between, but it was nice to be able to help the team,” Montague said. “I don’t really remember how I got the ball. I just kind of remember turning and having two guys converging on me and I just did what all my club coaches growing up told me not to do, toe poke the ball, and luckily it made it past the goalie and into the goal.”
For the last 36 minutes, the game would be back and forth as both teams found more opportunities to score, but neither one could finish as both keepers came up with saves to keep the ball out of the back of the net.
“They are a talented young team,” head coach Damon Rensing said. “We thought they would just play and come at us and we weren’t sharp on some things, but I thought our response in the second half was fantastic.”
The Spartans will have four days to rest and prepare for their game on Oct. 15 against the Western Michigan University Broncos. The Broncos are 6-3-3 overall and have already knocked off the University of Michigan earlier in the season.
“It’s a game between two good college (soccer) programs in the state of Michigan and nothing more and nothing less,” Rensing said.
Brooks Laimbeer is the host of Corner Kick for Impact Sports.
Photo: Hannah McEnroe/Impact Sports