EAST LANSING – On a rainy, wet evening, Michigan State faced a hard-fought matchup that ended in a 1-1 draw against No. 25 Maryland.
The Spartans kept pace with a composed and talented Maryland side that brought them a difficult game at DeMartin Stadium. The Spartans, yet to find a win at home this season, faced a powerhouse matchup with Maryland, which entered the game after a 2-0 home victory against Cal State Fullerton.
Injuries have been the big storyline for the Spartans early on in the season, but they have succeeded recently against tough opponents in Wisconsin and Rutgers.
At the start of the game, both teams fought aggressively to win back possession and the distribution of the ball was even throughout the first 40 minutes. Late in the first half, a big goal at the 44th minute from Michael Pimlott earned the senior his first goal of the season, as he finished a clever play at the top of the box to give MSU a 1-0 lead.
A goal against a great defensive team in Maryland was sure to give the Spartans confidence as they entered the second half.
“It was a great first-half goal. We really had the game where we wanted it,” MSU head coach Damon Rensing said.
Both teams entered the second half with a lot of defensive pressure coming from both sides. Each team created chances and counter-attacked on several occasions, but excellent goalkeeping and disciplined defending was the theme of the second half.
Spartan goalkeeper Hunter Morse had a standout performance, as he ended with six saves and bailed the Spartans out of certain key situations for Maryland.
“He (Morse) made a couple really big saves for us,” Rensing said.
A pair of shots from Ferri at the 49th minute nearly gave the Spartans a second goal and a chance to increase the lead. Later in the 51st minute, Hunter Morse defended the Spartan goal by making two back-to-back saves. Maryland continued to put attacking pressure on MSU, as they kept firing shots and creating chances on the Spartans’ half.
A goal-line clearance from MSU freshman Nick Stone saved the Spartans once again.
At the 77th minute, Maryland tied the game by a goal scored by forward Justin Gielen, it was assisted by Johannes Bergmann from a cross on the left side of the field. With only 10 minutes left, Maryland raised its intensity to try and leave East Lansing with their first victory on the road.
As the end of regulation was whistled at the 90th minute, the game was to be played in a 20-minute overtime with a golden-goal finish. Due to weather conditions, both coaches and head referee Sergio Gonzalez ended the game as a draw and did not go into overtime. The full-time score ended level at 1-1.
“Once the game kicks off, the decision is in the referee’s hands,” Rensing said. “And in the safety of the student athletes, the referee made the decision to stop the game.
“We were disappointed to lose the lead, but we were strong defensively”
The difference in the game was that Maryland continued to create chances, they dominated possession, and they controlled a large part of the game against MSU in both halves. At the same time, the theme of the game for both sides was missed chances to take a solid, comfortable lead.
“Early on, we had a couple of good counters, we had a chance to go up 2-0,” Rensing said.
The Spartans, now 2-6-2 overall and 2-1-1 in the Big Ten, will travel to Akron on Tuesday to play a non-conference game.
Contact Luca Melloni at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @mellonluca.