ANN AROBOR, Mich. - In the annual battle for the Big Bear Trophy, Michigan State men’s soccer dropped a 2-0 decision to Michigan on Tuesday at U-M Soccer Complex.
The Wolverines re-captured the trophy for the first time since 2015. MSU won games in East Lansing in 2016 and in Ann Arbor in 2017, while the teams tied in East Lansing last season.
The Spartans fall to 3-10-3 overall and 3-3-1 in the Big Ten. Michigan improves to 8-4-4 overall and 3-1-3 in league action. Both teams have one Big Ten game remaining this season.
“We made two mistakes that really cost us. I thought at times we controlled what we wanted to do, but you can’t have those mistakes and chase the game. I thought in the second half that we started really well, and we hit the post when it was 2-0. We make that and its 2-1 and a lot of things change,” MSU head coach Damon Rensing said.
Michigan took the 1-0 lead in the 10th minute when during a scrum in the box Marc Jbarra and Derick Broche found leading-scorer Nebojsa Popovic.
The Wolverines upped its lead to 2-0 with Popovic’s second goal of the game in the 38th minute. Popovic took advantage of a Spartan turnover to get the ball past redshirt-sophomore goalkeeper Hunter Morse.
Michigan State came out strong in the second half, holding possession early on. In the 55th minute, a blast from freshman forward Conner George led to a Spartan corner kick, but MSU was unable to find the back of the net.
Morse made a pair of stellar saves in the second half to keep the game within reach. For the game, the goalkeeper made four saves in the game three of which were in the final 45 minutes.
“It was a really fun environment. To me, this is what you come to college for to play for the Big Bear trophy. There is no rivalry like this in the Big Ten as far as soccer goes. The environment was great, and our Rowdies came out which was awesome. The Ultras were there, and it was a great soccer community,” Rensing said.
The Spartans will conclude the regular season at DeMartin Stadium on senior day taking on No. 10 Indiana on Sunday, Nov. 3 at 3 p.m. The game will be televised on the Big Ten Network.