Aug. 26, 2011
The 2011 season gets underway for the men's soccer team, as it hosts Detroit in an intrastate rivalry game at DeMartin Stadiumon Saturday at 2 p.m. This serves as the season opener for both teams.
Michigan State is ranked 19th in the NSCAA preseason poll, coming off a 2010 season in which it went 13-7-4. Seven of MSU's 2011 opponents appear in the preseason survey: No. 2 Akron, No. 8 Connecticut, No. 9 Michigan, No. 12 Notre Dame, No. 15 Ohio State, No. 17 Indiana, and No. 18 Penn State.
Scouting the Titans
Detroit was picked seventh in the Horizon League preseason poll, and finished fifth in the Horizon League a year ago. Expectations are high for the squad, as Detroit returns a talented senior class. The 2010 Horizon League Newcomer of the Year, Ya Ya Toure joins Otieno Victor, Sam Seppo, and Nate Robinson to push the offense while Mike Chiandussi will secure the defense. Nicholas Deren is starting his third season as the head coach of the Titan program; the longtime assistant served as the team's interim head coach in 2009 and was officially named head coach in advance of the 2010 season.
A Look at the Spartans
For any program losing eight seniors - including five starters - from a team that advanced to the NCAA Round of 16, a bit of apprehension would be understandable. However, with nine seniors leading his squad this season and a stable of talented underclassmen, Michigan State head coach Damon Rensing is quite optimistic about his team's fortunes for the 2011 season. Now in his third year as head coach and his 13th consecutive on the Spartan sidelines, Rensing has been a part of building this program which has now made four consecutive NCAA appearances for the first time in school history and made it to the third round of the NCAA Tournament for the first time since sharing the NCAA title in 1968.
Junior center back Kevin Cope and fifth-year senior Jeremy Clark serve as the team's captains, and their play sets the pace in the defensive third of the field along with other likely starters Wesley Curtis and Mark Barone. Returning starters Cyrus Saydee and Josh Barens are in the midfield, and Brent Rosendall and Rubin Bega are the Spartans' top options at forward. Plenty of experience returns to Rensing's roster in 2011, as only three players appeared in all 22 games in 2010. Add to the mix several talented freshmen, and Rensing is optimistic that his team can challenge in an always-tough Big Ten.
MSU men's soccer team has been tabbed fifth in the pre-season conference polls, as announced by the Big Ten Conference office on Tuesday, Aug. 23. Indiana was selected as the favorite, and Ohio State checks in at No. 2 in the poll matching their finish from a year ago. Penn State follows at No. 3, jumping up a spot from last year's fourth place campaign. Michigan, after winning its first Big Ten Tournament title and advancing to last year's NCAA College Cup semifinals, clocks in at No. 4. Michigan State, Northwestern and Wisconsin round out the poll.
The Conference also announced it's list of Players to Watch, and the three MSU players are seniors Rubin Bega and Cyrus Saydee, and a returning all-Big Ten selection, junior Kevin Cope.
MSU battled through a pair of one-goal losses in its exhibition games last week, falling 1-0 at Oakland on Thursday in the first-ever night game on that campus, On Saturday, Michigan State fell to Northern Illinois, 2-1, at the Shindigz National Soccer Festival in Fort Wayne, Ill. Freshman Adam Montague had the lone Spartan tally off an assist from Rubin Bega, but a pair of first-half markers by the Huskies was too much for the MSU side to overcome.
The Big Ten Network will air 10 men's soccer games this fall, and of the nine that have been announced, three will feature Michigan State in Big Ten Conference matchups at DeMartin Stadium. The Spartans host Ohio State on Sunday, Oct. 2 at noon, which will be the second game of the men's soccer package on the Network. The Spartans will host Penn State a week later, also a noon game, and then will tangle with Michigan on Sunday, Oct. 30 in a battle for the Big Bear Trophy.
MSU travels east to take on a pair of NCAA Tournament teams from a year ago in their first full weekend of action. On Thursday, the Spartans will take on No. 8 Connecticut at historic Marrone Stadium in Storrs, Conn. On Sunday, MSU will take on New Hampshire, which was picked third in the America East preseason poll.