EAST LANSING, MI – After a two-overtime, 0-0 tie at Wisconsin on Saturday night, the Spartans traveled back to East Lansing for Tuesday’s matchup against the Western Michigan Broncos.
Behind freshman forward, Ryan Sierakowski’s two goals, Michigan State was able to defeat Western 2-1. However, WMU did have the advantage in shots at 19-10 and in corner kicks at 9-1.
MSU is now 31-2-8 all-time (18-1-4 at home) versus Western.
“I thought some guys took some responsibility in the final third,” MSU head coach Damon Rensing said. “I thought that we asked guys to make plays and then be good on the ball in the final third and take responsibility, and I thought those guys did that today.”
Western Michigan started the game with almost instant pressure, with their first corner kick coming under a minute into the game.
Despite the offensive attack from Western, MSU was able to create their own offense with Sierakowski’s first goal coming just under ten minutes into the match. His shot came at the top of the box and it was set up by Jason Stacy’s assist.
“The defender headed it to Jason (Stacy), he intercepted the pass and then he touched it to me, I took a touch, beat the defender, and (I) was lucky enough to hit it back post and beat the keeper,” Sierakowski said.
After the early goal, Western continued to attack and put shots on net, forcing more corner kicks. That trend would continue, WMU would pressure and the Spartans’ defense would remain stout. As soon as the Broncos were stopped, MSU was starting the counter-attack at the nearest chance.
One of Western’s best scoring chances came around the 60th minute when WMU’s Esteban Russell took a shot coming from the right side of the box. The ball came across the box, past all of MSU’s defenders and goalie, and two Broncos making runs on the backside of the play.
Less than two minutes after the scare from Western, MSU’s offense was able to capitalize and add another goal to the lead.
“We created a lot of chances and we executed today…that’s all you can ask for,” Sierakowski said.
As the match went on, Western took a lot of low-percentage shots from distance.
With two minutes left to play, the Broncos put consistent pressure on the Spartans’ defense. At the 88:42 mark, WMU was finally able to break through and score their only goal.
Although it wasn’t a shutout, the MSU defense was impressive once again.
With senior defender, Zach Carroll, out, redshirt senior, Josh Barens, was able to start on the backline. This was Barens’ first start since 2011 after he battled through years of injuries and rehab.
“It’s kind of hard to describe, (I) haven’t played in three years…once you get on the field, you forget about everything,” Barens said.
Coach Rensing commented on his team’s performance in a postgame interview.
“It was big for some different guys to step up today,” Rensing said. “Josh Barens, that kid has been out and for him to put the two games together back-to-back…basically, you’re looking at 180 minutes after being out and helping the backline not give up a goal until a minute-and-a-half left in the game, and I don’t even think that was really on the backline. Josh Barens has been huge, not just from a playing standpoint, but leadership.”
Watch Coach Rensing’s full postgame interview here:
Michigan State’s homestand will continue against the Penn State Nittany Lions, this Sunday at 1 p.m. Sunday is also “Senior Day”, an opportunity to honor the seniors at DeMartin Stadium.