EAST LANSING In the second half of yesterday”s Michigan men”s soccer game at Michigan State, the Wolverines played like a team on a mission. They were able to control the ball, create several scoring chances and dictate the game”s pace.

Paul Wong
The Wolverines fought hard to tie the game at three, but their aggressive play burned them in the end.<br><br>TOM FELDKAMP/Daily

But the first half of the Big Ten showdown featured a lethargic Michigan team that saw its normally stiff defense exploited several times en route to a 3-1 halftime deficit to its in-state rival. That poor start proved too much to overcome despite the energetic second half response, as the Spartans handed the Wolverines their third consecutive loss, 4-2.

“Dr. Jekyl appeared for our team,” said Michigan coach Steve Burns of his team”s first half performance. “We played flat and lifeless, and I really have no answers for it. I was extremely upset at the players in the first half.”

Michigan State capitalized on two golden opportunities early in the game. Nick DeGraw made good on a penalty kick in the 8th minute after a Michigan foul, and then Anders Kelto repeated the feat during the 21st minute, finding the net after Michigan was called for a second infraction inside the box.

The Wolverines cut the lead in half during the 37th minute of play, as Robert Wurth beat Michigan State goalie Mike Robinson for an unassisted goal.

But, little more than two minutes later, Michigan State forward Jeffery Krass took a feed from Steve Arce and beat Michigan goalkeeper Joe Zawacki to send the Spartans into halftime with a cushion.

“I thought we came out pretty good early we had some jump in our legs and created a couple chances that we were able to finish,” Michigan State coach Joe Baum said. “When we got that third goal, I felt better, but at halftime I told the players that it was far from over.”

Michigan proved Baum to be prophetic, dominating the flow of the game for the first 20 minutes of the second half. Jody Keeling eventually made the Wolverines” hard work pay off, tallying a goal in the 61st minute to draw the visitors within a goal. Mike White fired a shot from the right side of the box that was turned away, but Keeling was waiting alone for the rebound and put it in the gaping net.

“I was calling for the ball on the back post,” Keeling said. “White took the shot and the goalie coughed it up luckily I was ahead of my defender so it was a pretty easy goal.”

The Wolverines” best chance to notch the equalizer came with 12 minutes to go when they received a corner kick. Defender Kevin Taylor was denied on a header as Spartans” goalkeeper Mike Robinson dove along the ground to keep the Spartans ahead.

On the counter-attack off of Robinson”s save, Michigan State broke forward Thomas Trivelloni behind the Michigan defense. The pass sent to Trivelloni turned into a race between himself and Zawacki, as Michigan”s goalkeeper came well out of his net in an effort to steal the ball. But Trivelloni won the battle and punched the ball around Zawacki, at which point the goalie tackled the attacking forward Zawacki was given a red card, forcing backup goalkeeper Brad King into action and leaving Michigan down a man.

Michigan State put the game away a minute later as Trivelloni received a pass from Craig Hearn and scored to give the Spartans the 4-2 victory.

“That gave us a bit of an adrenaline rush and then we were able to get the fourth goal,” said Baum of Robinson”s save. “That”s the play of the game, no doubt about it.”

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