EAST LANSING — After a two-game road trip against Michigan and Penn State, the Michigan State men’s soccer team returns home to play Ohio State on Wednesday. This is closer to a conventional home game, with the game being held at Lansing Catholic Central.
Neither side got its season off to a great start, but both have responded in each of its last games. MSU dropped its first two games against Rutgers and Michigan, but is coming off a big win at University Park against the then undefeated Penn State.
“We created several chances and were able to get behind their defense,“ MSU coach Damon Rensing said. “We were able to get behind their defense through either direct play or combination. Our shape defensively led to some stuff offensively.”
MSU has fielded a different lineup in each game. It has also switched formations, playing the first two games in a 4-3-3 and playing a 4-4-2 most recently.
“We’ll keep tweaking lineups and changing them,” Rensing said. “The way this season is set up, you have to. Our first two lineups weren’t the same, and I would be shocked if our third was the same.”
As for Ohio State, it had a far from favorable opening to the season and is in the final game of a three-game road trip. The trip was marked by visits to the top two teams in the preseason rankings: Indiana and Maryland.
The opener against Indiana got out of hand for the Buckeyes, losing 3-0 with all three goals coming in the second half. They would bounce back with a big 1-0 win against Maryland. Joe Ortiz scored the winning goal on that occasion and claimed Big Ten Co-Offensive Player of the Week as a reward.
“It’s going to be a tough match,” Rensing said. “Penn State is a pretty structured team. I think Ohio State may be a little more free-flowing and more unpredictable.”
The two sides are meeting for the first time since MSU beat Ohio State 3-1 in East Lansing in 2019. MSU has dominated the matchup as of late, winning the last four meetings. The Buckeyes last win came in 2015, winning 2-1 in East Lansing.