LANSING — The Michigan State men’s soccer team suffered its third defeat of the season after a devastating 2-0 loss against Ohio State on Wednesday. The Spartans hosted the Buckeyes at Lansing Catholic High School in MSU’s first outdoor game of the season.
MSU coach Damon Rensing was pleased with his players being able to play outside again.
“Soccer is a sport that needs to be played outside,” Rensing said. “It’s great that it was 45 degrees and sunny.”
Despite the fair-weather conditions, it was not the best start of the game for the Spartans.
Buckeye freshman midfielder Laurence Wooton scored eight minutes into the game from a direct free kick that curled past junior goalkeeper Hunter Morse’s lower right corner.
From that point on, the game became physically intense. The Buckeyes were winning every 50-50 ball in the air, they were getting in between the Spartan midfield with ease and were able to counter-attack frequently.
“We looked too casual,” Rensing said. “There were moments where we were not being proactive, and we made mistakes early on.”
Spartan junior midfielder Olu Ogunwale and junior defender Alex Schterenberg were subbed off 30 minutes into the game for sophomore Will Perkins and freshman Vedad Kovac. With this substitution, the Spartans were able to get a little more movement in the right wing of the pitch.
“Will (Perkins) is a guy who started the first three games of the season, and today off the bench, he looked solid,” Rensing said.
On the other hand, the Buckeyes had a very limited bench to work with.
Eight out of the 11 players for the Buckeyes played over 80 minutes in Wednesday’s match with only three substitutes that checked in to play.
The Spartans struggled to get a clear-cut chance in the first half. They were outscored by the Buckeyes 5-2 in total shots in the opening 45 minutes.
“We’ve given up three goals in the first half of four of our games, and for the rest of the half, we’ve been chasing the game,” Rensing said.
It was clear to Rensing and his coaching staff that the Spartans need to start games in better shape.
Coming out of the break, Rensing said, “We had some good territory on their side, but we could not quite get the goal.”
The Spartans took advantage of the fact that the Buckeyes had less energy coming out of the half and began to produce better chances.
In the first 20 minutes of the second half, freshman forward Greyson Mercer created more opportunities with his attacking partner, junior Farai Mutatu.
It seemed as if the Spartans were really pushing for the equalizer, but could not get anywhere threatening.
MSU junior defender Luke Morrell had the best chance to tie the game with his headed effort from a corner kick, but it was caught by Buckeye senior goalkeeper Noah Lawrence.
Perkins made a last-ditch tackle against OSU redshirt junior forward Devyn Etling that prevented him from getting a one on one against Morse.
In the 80th minute, the Buckeyes were given a corner kick that set them up for their second goal. The ball bounced around between players inside the box until it landed at the feet of sophomore defender Samuel Buzzas who tapped it in calmly from five yards.
Right before the goal, Morse made a goal line save that resulted in the corner kick for the Buckeyes.
“It was bad organization, and I take part in that,” MSU sophomore defender Nick Stone said when he was asked about the last goal.
There were claims of Buzzas being offside from the Spartan players and Rensing, but the referee stood by his decision.
“We want to learn from it and improve next week against Northwestern,” Stone said.
The Spartans will have a week to revisit the positives and negatives from this match to prepare for their next encounter. Their record will improve to 1-3 in the Big Ten, and their next game will be at home against Northwestern on March 11.