MSU Participates in Memorial Game at Bradley
April 28, 2011
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State men's soccer team finished its 2011 spring season on Saturday (April 16) with a memorial game at Bradley University. This spring, the Spartans also faced Western Michigan, University of Detroit, Oakland and Michigan. Although MSU ended with a 2-3 record, Head Coach Demon Rensing is pleased with how his team competed and is looking forward to the 2011 fall season.
"I don't put a lot of emphasis on the results of spring games," said Rensing. "Instead I look for four key elements; playing to win, handling adversity, who plays best in what position, and cohesiveness. We excelled in all of those categories this spring and I'm very happy with how this team played."
The spring season's primary purpose is to prepare for the upcoming fall, but with three of the five teams on the spring schedule being 2010 NCAA Tournament contenders, it also served as a chance for younger players to gain experience against top programs. Cody Henderson and Ryan Keener, along with Tim Kreutz, who saw action in 18 games and notched one goal in 2010, particularly stood out during the spring training program. Goalkeeper Bryce Dobbins also put up solid minutes in the box, and will likely be the No. 2 keeper for the Spartans in the fall. These freshmen have made improvements this spring and showed they are ready to contribute in the upcoming season.
Michigan State lost some of the top defenders in the Big Ten to graduation this year, but after the performance this spring, Rensing isn't worried about holes along the backline. Two-year starter and 2009 Big Ten Rookie of the Year Kevin Cope will return to the defensive lineup with significant experience behind him. Mark Barone, who played a full year at left-back, will add versatility to the defense entering his senior year, as he is able to play at either left or center-back. After a year spent recovering from an injury, Ryan Thelen will be entering his third year on the defensive roster in the left-back position. Jeremy Clark will anchor the defense as MSU's starting goalkeeper for the 2011 season. Last fall, Clark posted a .667 save percentage in 70 minutes played.
The Spartans wrapped up the spring season by participating in the Fourth Annual Danny Dalhquist Memorial Game at Bradley University. The game benefited the Danny Dahlquist Memorial Fund, which provides scholarships at Bradley. The weather wasn't very cooperative and the crowd was small, but Rensing described competing in the event as a humbling experience.
"Teams like Notre Dame and Louisville have participated in the Danny Dahlquist Memorial Game in the past, so we were honored to be a part of it this year," Rensing said. "It was a great experience for our players and I think they got more out of it than just a soccer game."
Michigan State will not only witness a shift in the starting lineup for the 2011 season, but there will be a change in the coaching staff as well. Volunteer Assistant Coach Bill Boyle has accepted the assistant coaching position for the men's soccer program at Colgate University. During the 2010 season, Boyle worked primarily with the goalkeepers, while organizing the team's community outreach initiatives. He has also coached premier soccer in both Colorado and Michigan, and led the Haslett High School varsity team to a league championship in 2009.
The fall season opener is still months away, but Coach Rensing and the rest of the Spartans believe the 2011 season has already begun and they will use the experiences gained during this challenging spring to hopefully match or surpass the success of the 2010 season.
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