July 5, 2012
East Lansing, Mich. - Michigan State men's soccer head coach Damon Rensing has announced the schedule for the upcoming 2012 season , which once again will prove challenging for the Green and White throughout the year. On the 2012 slate are 20 opponents from eight different conferences, nine of which were NCAA Tournament qualifiers or leaders of their conference last year.
"The combination of our non-conference schedule along with the Big Ten Schedule makes it one of the toughest in the country," said Rensing, who annually puts together a challenging slate for his side. "Our goal is to play a tough schedule at home as well as on the road in order to prepare us to challenge for a Big Ten Title and a considerable NCAA run."
After a Green & White Scrimmage at DeMartin Stadium on Aug. 11, MSU plays both of its exhibition games on the road, first at IPFW (Aug. 17) and then at Duke (Aug. 19). The Mastodons finished the 2011 campaign second in the Summit League while the Blue Devils advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament last season.
Official games for the Spartans begin at home when they welcome Valparaiso and New Hampshire the final weekend in August. The home opener is slated for Friday, Aug. 24 against the Crusaders, who were the Horizon League regular-season champions in 2011. New Hampshire comes in on Sunday (Aug. 26) to complete the weekend series.
MSU takes a short trip to Bowling Green on Wednesday, Aug. 29, before returning home to host Connecticut, who reached the 2011 NCAA Tournament quarterfinals, on Monday, Sept. 3. The team is back on the road three straight games, starting with an east coast trip where the team will compete at Harvard (Sept. 7) and Providence (Sept. 9), who advanced the second round of the NCAA Tournament last season.
The following weekend is the annual Big Ten -BIG EAST Challenge, in which the Spartans will travel to Notre Dame on Friday to take on the perennially-ranked Irish (Sept. 14). MSU hosts the 2011 BIG EAST Blue division champions Marquette on Sunday, Sept. 16, to wrap the Challenge, then will welcome in-state rival Western Michigan on Friday, Sept. 21.
Michigan State will kick off conference play at DeMartin Stadium on Sunday, Sept. 30 against the 2011 Big Ten regular season and tournament champions, Northwestern. MSU continues league action on Sunday, Oct. 7 when it travels to Ohio State, then hosts a mid-week non-conference game against Detroit on Wednesday, Oct. 10.
After traveling to Penn State (Oct. 14) and Oakland (Oct. 17), the Spartans will return to East Lansing for three consecutive contests, beginning with Wisconsin on Sunday, Oct. 21. Next up is 2011 NCAA Tournament qualifier Indiana (Oct. 28) and on Wednesday, Oct. 31, MSU faces Akron, who was the MAC Champion and advanced to the third round of the NCAA Tournament last year. The Zips will be looking to avenge a Spartan victory last season, a loss which snapped the then-defending National Champion's 48-game home winning streak.
The final regular season contest will be on the road when the Green and White heads to Ann Arbor, Mich. to compete against archrival Michigan on Saturday, Nov. 3.
The 2012 Big Ten Tournament will be hosted by Northwestern and will be held from Wednesday, Nov. 7 to Sunday, Nov. 11.
"When looking at our schedule, I think there's a number of games for our fans to be excited about," notes Rensing. "UConn will be a favorite to get to the College Cup, and we travel east to play Harvard, one of the oldest and storied universities in the country. On that same trip, we will play Providence, which has been to the NCAA tournament each of the last five seasons. The Notre Dame game is one we always enjoy - the schools have a great rivalry and we have great respect for their soccer program and Coach Bobby Clark. With Notre Dame, UConn, Providence, and Marquette, we have four very high-quality BIG EAST teams on our schedule.
Then, we also have Akron, which has been one of the top programs in the country the last three years. We had an incredibly exciting game with them last year, and we're excited to bring them to East Lansing. "
"Every year the Big Ten is one of the top conferences in the country, if not the most competitive and difficult," continued Rensing. "Every game is very intense and tightly contested. The conference will be very strong in 2012 and I expect multiple teams will once again make the NCAA Tournament."