EAST LANSING -- The Spartans team made their fall season debut this past weekend with contests against MCLA D2 opponents Indiana Tech and Grand Valley State.
The morning started with a match-up against Indiana Tech, who has found much success the past few years competing in D2. The Warriors were no match however for the much bigger, stronger, and deeper Michigan State team. MSU got off to a quick start, pouring in eight goals in the opening frame while not allowing a goal on defense. The rest of game followed suit with the Spartans rotating their full team in en route to a cushy 16-6 victory. Attackman Brett Braun led MSU’s offensive effort with four goals and one assist. Also chipping in with two goals of his own was senior midfielder Kevin Horton, while senior attackman and returning All-American Mitch Newton dished out four assists. A total of 11 Spartans had recorded a point before the final whistle blew. Freshman Conner Stevenson led the team’s effort at the face-off X, going 13-19 for the contest, doing his best to replace the hole left by 3-time first team All-American face-off man Joe Mikkelson.
The evening game against Grand Valley State University (GVSU) proved to be a bit more challenging. The Lakers, who are just two years removed from winning the MCLA D2 National Title, rallied back from a 7-2 halftime deficit to tie the ballgame late in the fourth quarter. It’s always a tight contest between these two in-state schools, and Saturday night’s game proved no different. The teams exchanged goals heading into the final stretch before senior midfielder Mark Tratt tied the game with his second goal, a man-up snipe off a pass from attackman Charlie Pistner. Minutes later, sophomore midfielder Ben Sims buried his third goal of the game, giving the Spartans a one goal lead that they would not relinquish. MSU went on to win 13-12 in front of a home crowd of nearly 500.
Said sophomore Patrick Donovan, a returning starter at close defense, “Being just a few weeks in, we played together and we showed tremendous heart as a team. These next couple weeks of practice will be huge for us moving forward – we have the pieces to do big things this year.” The Spartans were led offensively by Pistner and Sims who each recorded a hat trick, and Mitch Newton with a goal and three assists. MSU edged the Lakers in ground balls (37-31) and face-offs (13-12).
Coach Cam Holding weighed in on the team’s opening weekend, saying, “There were a lot of encouraging things from this weekend, but a lot of things we need to work on and tune up too. Overall I was extremely happy with our effort and our ability to battle back in that last game [against GVSU].”
Michigan State is back in action in two weeks when they travel to Western Michigan to take on the Broncos.