EAST LANSING, MI – On a cloudy, fall day, Michigan State men’s soccer faced off against the Ohio State Buckeyes. After going 2-2-1 in their last homestand with zero goals in the last three games, the Spartans looked to get the momentum back on their side.
Both MSU and OSU were riding two-game winning streaks coming into Sunday’s matchup. Only one team could extend their winning streak to three, and that was Ohio State with a 2-1 win.
“Another tough one at home. It’s very frustrating. It’s a Big Ten game…anything can happen, and it did,” senior goalkeeper Zach Bennett said. “These are really, really tough games to win, just like any conference game would be and we just couldn’t get it done today.”
The Buckeyes were able to capitalize in the 16th minute off a costly turnover by the Spartans near midfield. After a quick pass, a shot was put on goal and blocked by Bennett. The rebound found the feet of Ohio State’s Marcus McCrary, who was able to finish and put OSU up 1-0.
Slightly over 10 minutes into the second half, Ohio State separated themselves even further from MSU. On a long throw-in into the box, the ball bounced around, hit a post and defender, eventually finding its way to a lone Buckeye, Danny Jensen, in the box. Jensen’s shot was just passed the reach of a sprawling Bennett.
“Ohio State is organized and tough to break down, and I think that we played into their hands pretty well,” MSU head coach Damon Rensing said.
Freshman forward, Ryan Sierakowski, was a bright spot for the Spartan offense. In the 87th minute, Sierakowski was able to put MSU on the board, scoring off a cross from senior defender Zach Carroll.
Unfortunately, the MSU offense did not come quick enough and the defense did not hold up long enough for the Spartans. Michigan State also broke its home scoreless streak at over three and a half games with Sierakowski’s goal.
“We need to start getting these results because you know how the Big Ten is, it’s going to come down to the last weekend and these early games can really hurt you and haunt you,” Bennett said.
Rensing talked about how the team will respond with its young core, starting six freshmen and sophomores.
“Sometimes you have to go through these games and lose some tough ones to understand what it takes,” Rensing said. “This is a tough lesson for our guys, but I think we can get better from it.
“At the end of the day, we didn’t do the things that we needed to win Big Ten games,” Rensing said. “We didn’t take care of business.”
“Some days we can finish, some days (we can’t),”Sierakowski said. “We just have to find that consistency.”
In the 84th minute of the match, MSU redshirt senior, Josh Barens, was able to step on the field for the first time since the 2013 season. Barens started his freshman and sophomore seasons, but missed most of the last three seasons with injuries.
“This kid has been through a lot. I don’t think anyone reading this will know how much he has been through,” Rensing said. “He was one of our best players as a freshman and a sophomore. For him to have to sit out three years is tough…he has put a lot into soccer and a lot into his rehab. For him to see the field is special. I am very, very happy for him.”
Michigan State will look to find that consistency, traveling to play Wisconsin on Sunday and again next Tuesday at home against Western Michigan.