EAST LANSING, Mich. — In a game that was a tight defensive battle throughout, Michigan State downed Indiana 2-1 in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament. The Spartans, now 9-9-1 overall, advance to Friday’s semifinal to take on No. 1-seed Penn State.
MSU advanced to the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament for the first time since 2009. Last year, the Spartans were dismissed from the Tournament via a 2-1 loss to Indiana.
“I thought we came out strong and organized, and scored a great goal early and created more dangerous chances in first half,” head coach Damon Rensing said. “In the second, Indiana came out with good intensity and I thought we managed it pretty well.
“I really thought that our center backs – Ryan Keener and Kevin Cope – were exceptional, as was our whole back line, and I really think that Fatai Alashe was outstanding for us, ” Rensing said. “I really want to give a lot of credit to our team for the way they came out and handled their business. We had a really emotional loss at Michigan on Saturday, and in a short turnaround, our players really did a nice job of preparing themselves for a good IU team and focusing on the task at hand.”
The Spartans were focused from the opening whistle, locking down on Indiana’s dangerous offense and limiting its chances. MSU limited the Hoosiers to just two shots on goal.
The Spartans were opportunistic and set an early tone when they jumped on the board in the fourth minute. Sean Conerty sent a through ball from the midfield up to Nick Wilson, who stopped it and left it for Adam Montague. He stepped up and fired it from 25 yards to the right corner of the net for a 1-0 lead.
Ryan Keener provided the Spartans an insurance tally in the 77th minute. Off a Ryan Thelen corner kick, Keener settled the ball inside the box and sent a shot past IU keeper Luis Soffner for his first goal of the season.
The Hoosiers pulled within a goal with six minutes to play, converting off a corner kick. Kaleb Konstanski settled the ball 10 yards out on the right side and sent a shot netward, which Nikita Kotlov tapped in. IU’s bid for the equalizer with 43 seconds remaining – a shot by the Big Ten’s leading goal scorer Eriq Zavaleta was deflected wide.