Aug 21, 2013
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State men’s soccer is ranked second in the 2013 Big Ten preseason coaches’ poll as announced by the conference office on Wednesday. Also recognized by the Big Ten coaches were redshirt senior Kevin Cope and juniors Adam Montague and Fatai Alashe as they were named to the 2013 Players to Watch list.
“It’s always nice to be thought of that you’ve got a good team by the other coaches in the conference, but at the same time our guys and our staff know that this is one of the best if not the best conference in the country and it’s ultra-competitive,” said head coach Damon Rensing. “At the end of the day, the only real standings that matter are at the end of the year and our goal is to be No. 1. Last year, we were playing for No. 1 and in the last game, we lost to Michigan. We were a fifth-seed and then ended up winning the tournament. That’s the type of competition that we’re at. It’s great to get a little recognition, but we know that this will get settled on the field.”
As the reigning Big Ten Tournament Champions, MSU enters the season with 21 returning Spartans led by Cope, Montague and Alashe. The team compiled a 12-10-1 record at the conclusion of last season, but two of their wins came against No. 1 Indiana.
Ranked No. 4 in the Big Ten by TopDrawerSoccer.com, Cope returns for his final season as a team captain for the Spartans. He was recently recognized on TopDrawerSoccer.com’s Preseason Best XI second team and is ranked No. 22 of the top-100 Division I players. The Canton, Mich., native leads a stacked backline of defenders looking to build off the momentum of the 2012 postseason as he was named to the All-Big Ten second-team.
Montague, the leading scorer on the 2012 squad, returns as a member of the first-team All-Big Ten last season. A native of Toledo, Ohio, Montague is ranked sixth in the conference heading into the 2013 season after posting a goal in every game of the 2012 Big Ten Tournament. One of only three forwards on the Big Ten Preseason Players to Watch list, he is also No. 47 in the country on TopDrawerSoccer.com’s top-100 and sixth in their Big Ten top-20.
Playing all but one game his entire Spartan career, Alashe leads a strong group of returning midfielders for MSU. Named to the All-Big Ten freshman team in 2011, the Northville, Mich., native finished 2012 with five assists, four of which were against Big Ten teams.
The Spartans kick off their preseason schedule with an exhibition against No. 4 North Carolina on Thursday, Aug. 22. The match will be held in Fort Wayne, Ind., and is set to begin at 5 p.m.
BIG TEN MEN'S SOCCER PRESEASON COACHES' POLL
2. Michigan State
5. Penn State
7. Ohio State