ANN ARBOR – The Michigan State men’s soccer team saw its Big Ten Tournament run end at the hands of their in-state rivals from the University of Michigan.
It was a rematch of the penultimate regular season for both sides, where Michigan dominated and secured a 2-0 win and the Big Bear title. While Michigan State had a hard time ever getting into that game, things were different this time around in Ann Arbor.
The Spartans welcomed senior Michael Wetngu back into the lineup, as he slotted into the 5-3-2 alongside Neilsen and Stone perfectly, as the Spartans put in one of their best defensive performances of the season in the first half.
Despite all the talent across the Michigan front line, Hunter Morse was only forced to make one save, which was from an overhit cross that went on target.
The defense wasn’t the only rejuvenated part of the Michigan State team, as the offense looked to have new life. The first real chance of the game fell to Gianni Ferri, who was put in behind but sent his shot wide from a tight angle. He wasn’t made to sit on the miss for long however, as he gave MSU the lead a few minutes later.
It was a great move for Michigan State, as Wetungu found Ogunwale across the field from midfield, before Ogunwale brought it down excellently before taking on the Michigan defense and squaring to Ferri in the six-yard box. It wasn’t the toughest finish for Ferri, but a composed one nonetheless to give MSU a surprising 1-0 lead.
The lead held going into the break, but a couple of miscues saw Michigan State’s hard work go to waste.
For the equalizer, whatever could go wrong did go wrong. A clearance off a Michigan free kick was redirected off of a Michigan hand, eventually leading to the second delivery which found its way to the wide open and offsides Derick Broche to tie the game.
He looked onsides on the initial through ball, but was well offsides when Jackson Ragen flicked the through ball into his path. Between the nature of the goal and the questionable officiating, it was an unfortunate and disappointing way for Michigan State to see its lead disappear.
“If there’s a handball and an offside, there’s nothing we can do on the first goal,” head coach Damon Rensing said.
The game winner would come from another set piece, this time directly from Jack Hallahan’s outswinger. His delivery from the right hand side went just over everyone, before bouncing into the top corner. A tough one to defend, as nobody expected that cross to make its way through untouched.
“That’s a tough play, I think you can tip your cap to Hallahan.” Rensing said.
From there Jack Hallahan took over the game, and it was surprising to see him not add another goal or an assist to his performance.
Michigan State struggled to create through the run of play, but found two late opportunities from freekicks. Unfortunately for MSU however, Michigan handled the cross on the first before Miller fired over on the second in an attempt he would of liked to have back.
The game would stay 2-1, and with the match’s conclusion came the end of the Michigan State soccer season. A tough way for the team to go into the offseason, and disappointing way to see the seniors leave.
Contact Adam Bakr at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @AdamBakr14.