EVANSTON, Illinois — Behind a pair of first-half goals, the No. 20 Michigan State men’s soccer team captured a hard-fought 2-1 win over No. 21 Northwestern Friday night at Martin Stadium in Evanston.
The Spartans improved to 7-0-6 overall and 3-0-4 in Big Ten action. With the win, MSU now sits atop the Big Ten standings with 13 points. Michigan State snapped a two-game losing streak against Northwestern. The Wildcats have now lost two in a row and fall to 9-2-3 overall and 3-2-1 in league play.
Michigan State is 2-0-1 against ranked teams this season.
“This was a super big victory for the guys, I’m extremely proud of them,” MSU head coach Damon Rensing said. “I thought it was quite a battle in a very tough environment, as far as playing on this field is tricky since we don’t play on a lot of turf fields, but our guys had an awesome first half, scoring two goals. We played very well defensively, and we moved the ball, and I thought we were brilliant in the first half. Credit Northwestern, they came out early in the second half, and we weathered some other chances by them a little bit, and then created some chances of our own and rode out a win in a very tough Big Ten game. Nothing is ever easy in the Big Ten, a lot of credit to Northwestern, they’re a good team. I’m just very proud of our boys; we’ll see how a couple of results go tonight, and hopefully, we can have a chance to play for a championship on Tuesday.”
Early on neither team had much going in their own offensive third. Michigan State started to get the offense going midway through the half with shots from sophomore defender Jeremy Sharp and sophomore midfielder Cristiano Bruletti.
In the 32nd minute, the Spartans took advantage of a Wildcat handball in the box. Junior midfielder Sean Kerrigan converted his fourth penalty kick of the season to put Michigan State on top 1-0. Kerrigan now leads the team in goals with five.
The Spartans weren’t done there, taking a 2-0 lead in the 42nd minute. Sophomore forward Jake Spadafora started the play up the left side pulling NU goalkeeper Jackson Weyman outside of the six yard box. Spadafora crossed the ball to freshman midfielder Richie Ludwig, whose sliding shot got past a NU defender in the mouth of the goal. Ludwig now has two goals this season for MSU.
Northwestern came to life in the second half, making it a 2-1 game in the 52nd minute. After a shot from Ugo Achara was blocked. He then collected the…