FORT WAYNE – The lone goal of the exhibition game Thursday night between Washington and Michigan State came off the kind of play only the best teams in the country can make.
Washington’s Andy Thomas surged down the left sideline before sending a crossing pass to Mason Robertson, who, with his back to the goal, touched a pass to Darwin Jones.
Jones then fired the ball into the left side of the net in the 29th minute at the Fort Wayne Sport Club.
It was a buildup play, and I knew I had to get my run into the box.
The ball came across and the player, Mason Robertson, laid it off, and I just had to smash it in, said Jones, whose Huskies are ranked sixth in the nation after a 16-2-4 record last season.
Washington will play another game in the Shindigz National Soccer Festival on Saturday night against Indiana, but there will be plenty of college, high school and club games before then.
Among the games today is a 6 p.m. match between Ohio State and Marquette’s men, and at 4 p.m. Saturday, IPFW plays Xavier.
They will all be hard-pressed to live up to the game Thursday, which was watched by about 1,000 people and saw Washington possess the ball for most of the game.
It’s great for us to get out here to play a couple Big Ten teams and a couple of perennial powers, said Washington coach Jamie Clark, who along with Michigan State coach Damon Rensing decided to tack on an extra 10 minutes of scoreless play to give their substitutes some time on the pitch.
It was our first game, so after 65 minutes it lost its luster a little and you put in a lot of guys. But you couldn’t ask for a better exhibition.
Washington came a long way for the festival, flying into Chicago, practicing in South Bend and then busing to Fort Wayne. Why make the trip just for exhibitions?
High level of competition, Clark said. You could play 10 teams in the Midwest and always get a good game. It’s just new faces. It’s fun to play new teams. We promise our guys when they come in that we’ll try to find them every opportunity and avenue to give them these sorts of games.
Robertson had the first great scoring chance of the game, in the 16th minute, but it sailed just wide of the left goalpost.
Shortly thereafter, Adam Montague of 10th-ranked Michigan State split the defense and fired a low shot that was stopped by goalkeeper Spencer Richey.
In the 42nd minute, Montague had a better chance, when he kicked a crossing pass out of mid-air, but Richey made a diving stop to preserve the 1-0 lead.
I was very pleased with our performance. We did well, Jones said. We started off well and stayed pretty strong. The competition was great, too. Michigan State didn’t let us down at all.