ANN ARBOR, Mich. - In the annual Battle for the Big Bear Trophy, junior forward DeJuan Jones knocked in the game-winner with less than a minute remaining in the first overtime to lift No. 6 Michigan State men’s soccer past No. 18 Michigan, 1-0, Sunday in Ann Arbor. This was the first-ever meeting when both teams were ranked.
With timing ticking down in the first overtime, junior defender Connor Corrigan began the play with a throw in that was flicked into the box by senior defender Jimmy Fiscus. Jones slid into the box and snuck the ball past UM goalkeeper Andrew Verdi for his fourth goal of the season. Three of Jones’ four goals have been game winners this season.
“I really just want to keep the momentum going, and help the team win. One of our goals is to compete for a Big Ten title, and this was a big stepping stone toward that,” Jones said “Being able to beat Michigan at their place is a great feeling.”
With the victory, Michigan State improved to 7-0 for the first time since 1968. The Spartans are also 2-0-0 in Big Ten action. Michigan suffered its first loss of the season, standing 4-1-2 and 1-1-1 in B1G play. In the fourth-biggest crowd at U-M Soccer Stadium, 2,637 fans watched MSU stop UM for the second-straight season, retaining the Big Bear Trophy.
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“It is always an exciting win. This is a very good Michigan team that is very well coached,” MSU head coach Damon Rensing said. “Neither team wanted to give much up today. We didn’t have a ton of chances, but I thought that we maintained possession for long spells. I give our guys credit, but we certainly have to work on our offensive creativity.”
The game was a physical and a close battle from the beginning with neither team garnering too much momentum in the first half. After the first 45 minutes, Michigan had a slight edge in shots, 3-2.
The intensity remained high in the second half and overtime. There were 31 total fouls called, including 18 after halftime. Michigan played a man down after a red card was issued in the 75th minute. Despite the man advantage, the team’s remained scoreless after 90 minutes.
Even though MSU couldn’t find the back of the net through regulation, Michigan State controlled and dictated the pace and flow of the match.
“I want to give credit to my staff Call (Wasserman), Ben (Pirmann) and Bret (Mollon). They did a great job of preparing the guys for this game. I certainly want to give credit to them. I also want to give credit to our athletic training staff, including Connor McDonough for getting our team ready to play today,” Rensing added.
The Spartans schedule doesn’t get any easier next week, as Michigan State hosts No. 3 Maryland. MSU and the Terrapins will meet on Friday, Sept. 22 at 7 p.m., in the Spartans’ only game next week.