The Michigan State Spartans men’s soccer team ended the regular season on Sunday with a two-game win streak following back-to-back wins over Wisconsin and Ohio State to finish the delayed, abridged, and conference-only season. The Spartans finished the season with an overall record of 4-6 and finished sixth in the league standings of nine teams.
Indiana won the regular season title with a 7-1 record, ahead of Penn State (6-1-1), Michigan (5-3-1), and Maryland (4-3-1). Rutgers (4-4) was just ahead of MSU in the final standings, but the Spartans did finish ahead of Ohio State (3-5-1), Northwestern (2-7-1), and Wisconsin (2-7-1). Michigan State beat all three teams at the bottom in one meeting, but played Ohio State twice and split the season.
Wisconsin 1-Michigan State 4
The Spartans’ offense woke up in a big way against the Badgers on Wednesday last week for senior day. The team celebrated its lone senior, Isiah Handspike, prior to the game. Then the Spartans scored early and often in the first half en-route to a big win and season high in goals.
In not even the eighth minute of the game, junior midfielder Olu Ogunwale sprinted up the left side and sent the ball through the lower left corner for the opening goal of the game, and made it a 1-0 MSU lead. The Badgers, just under 10 minutes later, would tie it up on a goal by Andrew Akindele off a free kick from the lower right corner and an assist by Henry Tophoven, but the lead was shortlived.
In the 27th minute, Ogunwale had a shot on goal blocked, but he managed to get the ball back and sent it off to freshman midfielder Jack Zugay for his first goal in the Green and White to give MSU back the lead for good. The freshman booted it in from close range and scored what resulted as the game-winning goal. However, the Spartan offense wasn’t done yet.
Today was a great day for your first Spartan goal! pic.twitter.com/u26q5H0gsK— MSU Men's Soccer (@MSUmsoccer) April 1, 2021
In the 41st minute shortly before halftime, redshirt sophomore defender Will Perkins stretched Michigan State’s lead out to 3-1 on a penalty kick, also notching his first goal as a Spartan. Then in the 85th minute late in action, junior midfielder Louis Sala hit in yet another free kick into the lower left corner for the final score 4-1.
Michigan State dominated in this one with a 13-6 shot advantage and a 7-3 shots on goal advantage. MSU moved to 3-6 on the season and also snapped a three-game losing streak to Wisconsin.
Michigan State 1-Ohio State 0
The Spartans wrapped up the regular season yesterday with a second consecutive win, this time on the road against Ohio State. The Buckeyes downed MSU 2-0 in the first outdoor game of the season at Lansing Catholic High School back on March 3, but Michigan State got revenge in this one.
Despite a 9-4 shots advantage and a commanding 5-0 shots on goal advantage, the Buckeyes’ goalie managed to come up with four saves until late in action. Despite repeated attempts that came up just short, MSU refused to give up.
The Spartans kept up the pressure and finally, in the 73rd minute, junior midfielder Jack Beck blasted it from deep after a throw in on the right side from Alex Shterenberg, and Will Perkins then delivered a deep pass to Beck for the game winning goal to make it 1-0.
Perkins finds Beck for the absolute firecracker !— MSU Men's Soccer (@MSUmsoccer) April 4, 2021
OSU 0 pic.twitter.com/kMOk8HnDFC
Redshirt junior goalkeeper Hunter Morse collected his second shutout of the season buoyed by the strong backline of MSU that prevented a single shot on goal.
Big Ten Tournament
The Spartans earned the No. 6 seed in the Big Ten Tournament. They will face No. 3 seed Michigan in Ann Arbor on Saturday, April 10. This is the third meeting between the in-state rivals this season and Michigan won the first two contests. Game one was a 1-0 loss at the Legacy Center Sports Complex in Brighton on Feb. 23 and game two was a 2-1 overtime loss in East Lansing at Michigan State’s home field, DeMartin Stadium.
Elsewhere around the Big Ten, the No. 1 seed Indiana will host No. 8 seed Northwestern on Saturday in Bloomington. Northwestern and Wisconsin tied for eighth place with identical 2-7-1 records, however Northwestern earned the No. 8 seed based on its 1-0-1 record against the Badgers this season.
Penn State earned the No. 2 seed and hosts No. 7 seed Ohio State on Saturday in State College. Meanwhile, No. 4 seed Maryland will host No. 5 seed Rutgers in College Park.
The semifinals will take place on Wednesday, April 14, at the sites of the highest remaining seeds in each half of the bracket, while the final is scheduled for Saturday, April 17, at the highest remaining seed. Game start times and broadcast coverage for all Big Ten Men’s Soccer Tournament games will be announced at a later date, but ideally it will get time on the Big Ten Network.