In a back and forth game, the Oakland Golden Grizzlies capitalized on two attempts to defeat the Michigan State Spartans 2-0 at home.
Michigan State found themselves with an early corner kick in the sixth minute, as a ball from junior midfielder, Jason Stacy, found the head of senior midfielder, Fatai Alashe, but he could not put the header on target.
The Golden Grizzlies would respond and for the next 26 minutes, they would have multiple good looks at goal, but only a few would make it on target.
The first of those scoring opportunities would come in the 11th minute when redshirt junior, Matt Rickard, got inside the right side of the Spartan box and forced junior goalkeeper, Zach Bennett, to come off his line and make a save.
Oakland would have another good scoring opportunity in the 27th minute as a cross from junior defender, Jake VanderLaan, would find the head of senior forward, Joey Tinnion, who would flick the ball out of bounds in the middle of the box.
In the 32nd minute, the Spartans went on the attack and a cross from redshirt senior forward, Tim Kreutz, would come off the head of senior forward, Adam Montague, and Stacy would find the ball in the box and volley it over the goal.
“You could tell it wasn’t a sharp performance,” head coach Damon Rensing said. “I thought we got away from the game plan a little bit early and then made it difficult.”
The best scoring opportunity that the Spartans would have in the first half would come off a through ball to freshman forward, Michael Marcantognini, which forced freshman goalkeeper, Wes Mink, to come off his line and make a save at the top of the box.
At the beginning of the second half, a close offsides call in Oakland’s defensive third prevented Michigan State from an early goal scoring opportunity, but the pressure would continue for the next 15 minutes as the Spartans would have multiple set pieces to score from.
The best scoring opportunity in that time though would come off a through ball from Montague, which would find Marcantognini inside the box, but he would take too strong of a touch and the ball would go out of bounds for a goal kick.
“We had territory with the ball the whole second half, but we didn’t create enough and weren’t dangerous on re-service which we’ve been good (at), and that’s how you reward when teams are sitting in a bit,” Rensing said.
The Golden Grizzlies would pick the tempo up and began creating more scoring opportunities late in the game.
The scoring chance that started Oakland’s offensive push was in the 81st minute off a cross from VanderLaan that found the head of junior forward, Shawn Claud Lawson, in the middle of the box, who flicked it towards the back post. Bennett made a diving save in the air and brought the header down cleanly to keep the game tied at 0-0.
Oakland would have another scoring opportunity three minutes later as a ball from a Golden Grizzly player found Rickard in the middle of the box, which he would then turn to his right and rip a left-footed shot toward the back post. The ball deflected off the post and into the goal to put Oakland up 1-0.
“I think it was a cross that the guy held up with his back toward goal and he turned and wasn’t in a super dangerous position, but I don’t think we closed down well enough and to the kid’s credit, he had one heck of a shot,” Bennett said.
The Golden Grizzlies would add another goal five minutes later as senior midfielder, Gavin Hoy, beat redshirt senior defender, Ryan Keener, on the left side of the box and slotted the ball between Bennett’s legs to put the Golden Grizzlies up 2-0 and give them the win.
“When you are trying to push for that equalizer all the numbers are up and the guy kind of slipped in behind Keener and I felt like I should have made that save,” Bennett said. “He had literally no where to go but between my legs or the near post and the guy smacked it between my legs. That’s unacceptable and I need to make that save to keep us in the game.”
The Spartans will return to the pitch on Sunday, Oct. 26 and get back into Big Ten conference play as they host the Northwestern Wildcats at DeMartin Stadium.
Brooks Laimbeer is the host of Corner Kick for Impact Sports
Photo: Hannah McEnroe/Impact Sports