Big Ten/BIG EAST Challenge Games on Tap This Weekend
Wesley Curtis

Sept. 13, 2012

• Michigan State continues its challenging non-conference schedule with games against a pair of nationally-ranked opponents in the Big Ten/BIG EAST Challenge this weekend. On Friday, the Spartans travel to play No. 8 Notre Dame in South Bend, then will host No. 17 Marquette on Sunday (2:30 p.m.).

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Men's Soccer preps for Notre Dame

Live Stats: Notre Dame | Marquette

The Last Meeting
Notre Dame1
Michigan State0
September 18, 2011
East Lansing, Mich.
Spartans Fall in Heartbreaker, 1-0
The Spartan men's soccer team was on the rough end of a tough 1-0 loss to No. 22 Notre Dame on Sunday afternoon at DeMartin Stadium. The Spartans, now 1-5-1 overall, will look ahead to Big Ten play next weekend.

The Last Meeting
Michigan State1  
September 16, 2011
Milwaukee, Wis.
Spartans Tie at Marquette, 1-1
Freshman Fatai Alashe's first collegiate goal came at an opportune time for the Spartans, as his late marker forged a 1-1 deadlock with Marquette on the road on Friday night. The game was the first in the weekend's Big Ten-BIG EAST Challenge. The Spartans and Golden Eagles each have identical 1-4-1 records on the season.

• Sunday's game against Marquette will be a women's/men's doubleheader, as the day starts with the Big Ten opener vs. Purdue for the Spartan women. Kickoff of that game is at noon.
        Both programs will welcome back their Spartan Summer Camp alumni to Sunday's games. Campers who come to either the men's or women's game with their camp Tshirt are eligible for free admission for themselves and one parent.

• The Spartans are coming off a split in their last weekend of action. MSU fell, 1-0, at Harvard last Friday, but rebounded with a 3-2 victory over Providence to wrap up its east coast swing.
        In Friday's game against the Crimson, the Spartan offense again struggled to convert despite creating scoring chances, and an early Harvard goal held up in a 1-0 contest. The Spartans outshot their hosts 13-8, and had two corners to the Crimson's three. Shots on goal were recorded as three a side; Dobbins recorded two saves and allowed just that goal in the 17th minute.
        MSU exploded for three goals in its Sunday game at Providence, but twice squandered a two-goal lead, getting the eventual game-winner from Cody Henderson in the waning minutes of regulation for a 3-2 victory. Henderson's tally was a beauty, looping over the defenders and settling into the right side of the net. The play initiated as a long throw-in, which was corralled by senior Brent McIntosh and shuttled out to Henderson at the top left corner of the box. Henderson lifted the ball from 25 yards out and watched it curl and fall into the far right side of the net.
       Also with goals on Sunday were Kyle Rutz and Nick Wilson, the first scores of the season for both players. The Spartans held 1-0 and 2-1 leads, but allowed the Friars back into the game on both occasions. Dobbins recorded three saves on the day.

• Barone and Montague continue as the team's leading scorers, each with a goal and an assist. Rutz, Wilson, and Henderson all have a goal each.
        Dobbins owns a 0.94 GAA and an .739 save percentage, and earned his first collegiate shutout in a 0-0 battle against Valparaiso in the season opener. He ranks third in the Big Ten in both categories, and also ranks third in saves (17, 2.83 per game)

• Notre Dame comes into the weekend with a perfect 5-0 record, boasting the second-most victories in the nation and one of just 12 unbeaten, untied teams in Division I men's soccer. The Fighting Irish captured the 11th annual Mike Berticelli Memorial Tournament last weekend by besting Oregon State (1-0) and No. 4 Akron (3-1).
        . allowed just four goals in five games to its opponents, and has greatly benefitted by limiting the offensive chances for opponents. The team has outshot their opponent by a 95-38 margin this season, which includes a 37-14 advantage in shots on goal. Two keepers have split time: Will Walsh owns a 0.67 GAA had twice has recorded shutouts in three games, while Patrick Wall owns a 1.00 GAA. The two keepers own identical .714 save percentages.
        Senior forward Ryan Finley and junior forward Harrison Shipp have combined for 14 points this season. Finley leads the Irish in goals (4) and points (9), while Shipp has five points on one goal and a team-best three assists.

• Michigan State is 6-11-5 all-time against the Irish, and the last two meetings have each been won by the road team in this rivalry. Last season, Harrison Shipp scored the lone goal of the contest in a 1-0 Irish victory. The Notre Dame win snapped a two-game Spartan winning streak.

• Like their BIG EAST conference mates Notre Dame, Marquette holds an identical 5-0 record, and can boast being one of 12 unbeaten and untied teams in men's Division I soccer. The Golden Eagles hold down the No. 17 spot in this week's NSCAA poll, and are coming off a 3-0 win over defending Summit League champion Western Illinois. Charlie Lyon made three saves en route to his fourth consecutive shutout, and brings a 0.40 GAA and .875 save percentage into the weekend's contests. The Golden Eagles will play at home against Michigan on Friday prior to their trip to East Lansing.
        Junior midfielder Eric Pothast leads the team in scoring, with two goals and three assists (eight points). Both Adam Lysak and Bryan Ciesiulka have scored twice and added an assist (five points), while Andy Huftalin rounds out the multiple goal scorers (2-0-4)

• After the teams battled to a 1-1 deadlock last season, the all-time record between the schools stands at 3-0-1 in favor of the Spartans. In that game, Huftalin gave the home team a 1-0 lead in the 60th minute, but Fatai Alashe's marker in the 82nd minute - his first collegiate tally - knotted the game.

• 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.

• Five teams on MSU's 2012 slate appear in this week's NSCAA National poll. . A sixth, Duke, was on MSU's pre-season slate, a game in which the Spartans came away with a 1-0 victory.

• 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 31-23-9 in his first three seasons as head coach, but MSU boasts an 110-64-21 (.619) overall record with Rensing on the sidelines, including 11 or more wins in eight seasons. Kylie Stannard and Ben Pirmann serve as the Spartan assistants. Pirmann is also a former Spartan letterwinner, and previously served the program as the volunteer assistant before returning to his alma mater after a coaching stint at Western Michigan. Stannard is a graduate of Creighton, which reached the Elite Eight twice in his career and the semifinals once. Prior to coming to MSU, he was an assistant coach at Northern Illinois. This past summer, Stannard made his debut as the head coach of Detroit City FC, which plays in the National Premier Soccer League. Former MSU keeper Jeremy Clark, (2008-11), is now in his first season as the team's volunteer coach.

• There are lots of great ways to follow the soccer program - as well as all 25 of MSU's varsity sports - other than gameday. Videos, previews, and game recaps can be found at, while coverage of the team on twitter can be found at @MSUMSoccer and @MSU_Athletics . On facebook, "like" us at

• 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.

• The Spartans will return to the Midwest for its competition next weekend to participate in the Big Ten-BIG EAST Challenge. MSU will play on Friday (Sept. 14) at Notre Dame, then host Marquette on Sunday at DeMartin Stadium. Sunday's game against Marquette will also be MSU Camper Appreciation Day, as all 2012 MSU Soccer Camp participants will be invited to the men's/women's doubleheader with a parent, free of charge.