EAST LANSING, Mich. - A penalty kick in the 89th minute by redshirt-sophomore forward Alex Shterenberg helped force overtime as the Spartan men’s soccer team battled to a 1-1 tie against Florida Gulf Coast Monday afternoon at DeMartin Stadium.
The tough Eagles defeated No. 24 Michigan in Ann Arbor. The Spartans and the Eagles were meeting for the first time, as MSU is now 0-0-2 this season and FGCU is 1-0-1. This is the first time since the 1957 season that Michigan State has started the season with a pair of ties.
“I was really proud of our team’s effort. I thought we did some very good things, created some chances. Florida Gulf Coast is a good team. They had some dangerous players and especially in the second half I thought we managed them, but I was really proud of the character of our guys. I mean to give the penalty with 2:40 left they could have kind of just wilted and went away, but they didn’t. They showed character and heart and came right back and tied the game. I thought in the first overtime we really went for it,” MSU head coach Damon Rensing said. “A lot of tired legs out their ,but we’re not a finished product but I do feel good where we are at and I like this groups character.”
In a physical game that saw 37 fouls, the Eagles controlled possession early in the game, forcing redshirt-sophomore goalkeeper Hunter Morse to make three saves in the first 45 minutes. Morse earned his first save in the 17th minute after a Jahan Rajaee shot. In the 25th minute, a Ryan Medilah blast was also corralled by Morse.
After 45 minutes, neither team found he back of the net. Florida Gulf Coast had six shots in the first half, while Michigan State had four shots in the first 45 minutes.
Offensive pressure increased by both teams in the second time. In the 79th minute, sophomore midfielder Jack Beck had the Spartans first shot on goal, which was stopped by FGCU goalkeeper Gustavo Vasconcelos.
In the 88th minute, the Eagles took the lead briefly when Ivan Rosales slipped a penalty kick past Morse to give Florida Gul Coast the 1-0 lead.
Less than two minutes later, Vasconcelos took down Beck in the box to lead to a Michigan State penalty kick. Shterenberg drilled the PK for his first career goal to tie the score.
“We work for big moments like this. We’re a team, the Spartans. We’re dawgs you know we work until the last moments so that’s the mentality thing. We’re working until the final whistle. We’re working to get a win every time we step out on this field,” Shterenberg said. “We want to fight for each other, fight until the very last moment so as much as I can bring whether it’s off the bench or it’s starting I’m going to fight until the last moment on the field. That’s all it is - a mentality thing,”
MSU out-shot FGCU 6-2 in the two overtime period, controlling the pace of the final two minutes of action. Shterenberg looked to score the golden goal in the 98th minute but was denied by Vasconcelos.
The Spartans have two more home games remaining on their season-opening four-game homestand. On Friday, Sept. 6, MSU will host Washington on a game televised on the Big Ten Network at 7 p.m. On Sunday, Sept. 8, Michigan State will take on Cornell as part of a doubleheader with the Spartan women’s team at 3 p.m.