Survive and advance, that is what the Michigan State men’s soccer team accomplished Thursday afternoon with a 2-1 victory over the visiting Cleveland State Vikings. The Spartans were led offensively by Adam Montague and Nick Wilson who both had a goal and assist. Once again the Spartans were led on defense by goal keeper Zach Bennet who made the play of the game with a save on a Cleveland State penalty kick. With the win the Spartans improved their record to 12-9-1 and advanced to face number one overall seed Notre Dame in South Bend on Sunday at 2 p.m.
Adam Montague has stepped up his game at the right time of the year. The sophomore forward notched his fourth game in a row with a goal in the 13th minute off a pass from Nick Wilson. The early goal allowed the Spartans to play more relaxed and in the 20th minute the Spartans extended their lead to 2-0. A Spartans free kick from just inside the midfield line found star defender Kevin Cope who passed the ball to Montague. Montague shielded off a Viking defender for enough time to fire off a shot. His shot was saved but redirected to the right side of the box, where Nick Wilson got his foot on the ball and sent it into the back of the Vikings net.
The Spartans hot streak really started when they decided to start Zach Bennet in goal. Today proved as to why that decision by head coach Damon Rensing has been critical in the team’s recent success. Bennet recorded four saves on the day but none were bigger than the stop of the Vikings penalty shot in the 70th minute. Bennet was able to accurately read which direction the man taking the penalty intended to place the ball and stretched out to get his hands on the shot to prevent the Vikings from converting. The save managed to become even more critical when the Vikings managed to place a goal on the scoreboard in the 87th minute to cut the Spartans lead to 2-1.
The one goal was the only goal the Spartans would allow for the day as they managed to hold on for the last three minutes to secure the victory and ensure the trip to South Bend. Earlier in the season the Spartans and Irish faced off with the Irish winning by a score of 2-1. The Spartans are a much different team than they were in the previous match up as they are now healthy, confident and firing on all cylinders. The Spartans may enter the game as an underdog but under the leadership of Coach Damon Rensing I wouldn’t be shocked to see them pull off the upset to continue to survive and advance