Spartans Anxious For Season Opener
Aug. 23, 2012
Michigan State opens the 2012 season with a pair of games against Valparaiso and New Hampshire this weekend. On both Friday and Sunday, fans will be treated to doubleheaders at DeMartin Stadium, with both the women's and men's teams in action. In addition, both programs are celebrating their alumni weekends, with alumni activities on Saturday before being honored on the field during Sunday contests.
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On Sunday, the Spartans will host an autograph session and free youth clinic at the conclusion of the game against New Hampshire. After signing posters for fans in attendance, the MSU players and coaches will run this clinic for 30-45 minutes. For those interested in having their child participate, please e-mail Assistant Coach Kylie Stannard at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Michigan State was selected third in the pre-season Big Ten men's soccer poll. In conjunction with the pre-season survey, Senior Domenic Barone , junior Kevin Cope and sophomore Adam Montague were mentioned on the Big Ten 2012 Players to Watch List.
The Spartans went 1-0-1 in their two pre-season exhibition games. Last Friday, the Spartans battled to a 1-1 deadlock with IPFW. Parker Seymour inserted the ball on a restart, and Ryan Keener headed in the loose ball for the Spartan score. The next day, MSU battled with preseason top-25 and ACC power Duke, and turned in an impressive defensive effort in a 1-0 victory. Redshirt sophomore Tim Kreutz, who missed last season with injury, had the lone MSU goal. In all, 20 field players saw action in the two exhibition contests and the Spartans utilized two keepers - redshirt junior Bryce Dobbins and freshman Zach Bennett.
One of MSU's largest September hurdles a year ago has turned into a huge asset as the Spartans begin the 2012 season. The losses of Domenic Barone and Kevin Cope to season-ending injuries before the 2011 season was two games old forced the coaching staff to audition some of the team's younger players for larger roles at an advanced pace. Despite a roster with 16 freshmen and sophomores in 2012, the Spartans boast depth and experience at every position which finds them not only ready, but anxious to test themselves against one of the most difficult schedules in the country.
Friday serves as the 13th meeting all-time between Michigan State and Valparaiso, which was chosen to finish in third place in the Horizon League's preseason poll. Head coach Mike Avery returns four of his top six scorers from his team which went 9-6-5 overall and captured the school's first-ever Horizon League regular season title in men's soccer last year. Junior Charles Barden led the Crusaders in scoring last season (four goals, nine points) while both Todd Vervynckt and Gerardo Avelar contributed a pair of scores. Senior keeper Kyle Zobeck also returns, and he had a 0.66 GAA and .785 save percentage as the team's only keeper of record last season.
On Sunday, Michigan State will entertain New Hampshire for the fourth all-time meeting between the teams. The Spartans earned a 3-0 road victory last season in Durham. UNH will play at Oakland on Friday before coming to DeMartin Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Head Coach Damon Rensing is in his fourth season as head coach, but embarks on his 14th on the Spartan sideline after a standout career for the Spartans (1993-96). Rensing is 31-23-8 in his three seasons as head coach, but MSU boasts an 110-64-20 (.619) overall record with Rensing on the sidelines, including 11 or more wins in eight seasons.
The Big Ten Network will televise three Michigan State men's soccer games live this season. MSU's showdown with 2011 regular-season and Big Ten Tournament champion Northwestern at DeMartin Stadium is the first game (Sept. 30), and the other home game which will be shown is the Oct. 21 date with Wisconsin. The Oct. 14 game at Penn State is the other live broadcast for MSU during the regular season. The Big Ten Network will also televise the Big Ten Tournament, which will be held Nov. 7-11 at Northwestern.
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