Though the Michigan State men’s soccer team sports a lackluster 5-5 record, IU junior midfielder Lee Hagedorn promised that the Hoosiers are not taking their Big Ten foe lightly.
“We have had games where we have taken teams too lightly and kind of gotten punched in the nose a little bit,” Hagedorn said. “We need to take every game seriously, whether we are playing the No. 1 team or a team that is not ranked. I expect a tough game.”
IU, coming off a 2-0 victory Tuesday night at Butler, travels to East Lansing, Mich., for a 2:30 p.m. matchup Sunday against the Spartans. The Hoosiers are 6-3-2 on the season and 1-1 in the Big Ten.
Their most recent victory over the Bulldogs showed the emergence of a new offensive threat.
Sophomore forward Daniel Kelly, who Tuesday night scored the fastest goal ever by an IU player, scored twice in the last three games. In addition, Kelly has the highest shots-on-goal percentage on the team.
IU junior midfielder Eric Alexander said Kelly’s recent play up top has been crucial to his team’s success.
“Dan has just been playing outstanding,” Alexander said. “He has been working hard at practice and is a good finisher. He is taking his opportunities well and keeps improving every day.”
But while the IU offense appears to be hitting full stride, the defense has been susceptible to goals of late. In the past six games, the Hoosiers have given up eight scores.
“As a defense, we have not been playing up to our potential,” Hagedorn said. “We have been giving up goals in games we have won, and it definitely has not been cutting it. We stepped it up against Butler, and I think we are starting to turn it around.”
For the past three games, Hagedorn has stepped into the starting role as outside defender in place of freshman Tommy Meyer.
Against the Spartans, IU faces a team that has played well the last couple of weeks. Though Michigan State lost 3-0 to No. 15 Notre Dame on Wednesday night, it won its three previous matches, outscoring opponents 11-3.
Senior forward Doug DeMartin, a first-team All-Big Ten player last year, leads the Spartans with 10 goals on the season.
IU coach Mike Freitag said the Spartans are a talented team that will give the Hoosiers some difficulty.
“They are kind of a seasoned group. ... I’m sure they are not happy of their results up to this point,” Freitag said. “I know what their players can do, and it will be a contest. This will be a very competitive game.”