Michigan State senior Nick Wilson knew better than anyone in green and white that they would get a game.
The Fort Wayne native has watched the ascension of the IPFW men’s soccer team closely.
“IPFW has definitely come a long way,” said Wilson, a Canterbury graduate, who plays forward and midfield for the Spartans.
“I’m proud of my hometown. I was telling my buddies that during my freshman year, I think out of all Division I schools, they were near the bottom. Now they’ve come a long way, and I like it.”
But he sure didn’t want the Mastodons to hang on to the one-goal lead they had, after freshman Jackson Tooke got behind the defense and chipped the ball over the goalkeeper’s head in the 69th minute.
“Definitely not,” Wilson said.
And in the 79th minute, Michigan State’s Ryan Keener scored on a header to force the 1-goal draw Friday at Hefner Fields in the Shindigz National Soccer Festival.
Despite losing the lead, the tie was a statement for the Mastodons.
Last year, in another exhibition at Hefner Fields, the Mastodons tied Duke 1-1 and posted an 8-10-2 record and their first berth in the Summit League tournament.
“We’ve got a lot to work on. We’re a very young team, and we played 20 guys tonight,” IPFW coach Mike Harper said. “It was a good opportunity to see all our kids play. We were surprised by a few, and we know we have some work ahead of us, but it was a good result for us.
“We started a lot of freshmen, and they didn’t back down. They played hard. Jackson scored our only goal, and he’s a freshman, and they were real nervous at the beginning of the game, but they relaxed and did really well. Playing your first game against a Big Ten school as freshmen is tough to do.”
The Mastodons have 11 players from northeast Indiana, including senior Brent Helton from Homestead, senior Mitch Falkenstern from Snider and senior Joe Stoffel from Homestead. Sophomore goalkeeper Brandon Cloutier had four saves for IPFW.
As for Wilson, he had one shot coming off the bench. It’s a role he’ll have to get used to this season.
“Hopefully, I’ll be the supersub. I think I’m going to be playing behind Adam Montague, who was our leading scorer last year,” Wilson said. “So hopefully, I get some quality minutes and get some goals in there. I hope. It would be my first goal.”
Notes: In the late game, Ohio State and Duke played to a scoreless draw.