Sept. 23, 2013
WATCH: Men's Soccer Preview
EAST LANSING, Mich. - After a five-day break in action, the Michigan State men's soccer team (4-1-0) will travel to Omaha, Neb., to face No. 3 Creighton (5-1-0) for the first time in school history. The game will be held at Morrison Stadium on Tuesday, Sept. 24 at 8 p.m. ET. The game against Creighton will be broadcast live at GoCreighton.com; paid subscription is necessary.
In the Rankings
MSU is receiving votes in the TopDrawerSoccer.com top-25 poll and the College Soccer News Top-30 Poll, and is tied for fourth with Louisville in the NSCAA Great Lakes poll.
Currently, the Spartans are first in the Big Ten in fewest goals allowed (two) and goals against average (0.40), as well as second in assists per game (2.40) and shutouts (four). MSU is fourth nationally in shutout percentage (0.80), tied for eighth in save percentage (0.900), ninth in GAA (0.40), 11th in assists per game (2.40) and tied for 16th in total assists (12).
Last Time Out
Michigan State improved its record to 4-1-0 after the team defeated Bowling Green, 1-0 on Sept. 18 at DeMartin Stadium. It marked the fourth shutout for the Spartans in five games. After several opportunities for either team, Zach Bennett found Dewey Lewis driving down the field and passed it to Adam Montague, who cut a cross over to Kreutz who sent it passed the goalie on his left side, and put the Spartans up 1-0 in the 39th minute. It marked Kreutz' second goal in two games, fourth of his career.
There were a total of 30 fouls in the game that saw four cards issued. In goal, Bennett earned his fourth shutout of the season, seventh of his career. He nearly doubled his total saves on the season with eight on the day, a career high.
For the second consecutive week, goalkeeper Zach Bennett was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week as announced by the conference office on Sept. 23. Bennett’s career-high eight saves helped the Spartans to their second-straight shutout this past Tuesday with a 1-0 home win against Bowling Green.
Bennett currently leads the Big Ten in goals against average with 0.40, save percentage at .895 and shutouts per game with a 0.80 average. In Tuesday’s win against the Falcons, Bennett recorded a career-high eight saves on the day en route to earning his fourth shutout of the season, seventh of his career. The sophomore is also ranked 10th in the country in goals against average and 12th in save percentage. It is the third weekly honor for the Plano, Texas, native who has played in every minute of the 2013 season.
In all five games this season, MSU outshot its opponents, for a total of 80-59. The team has averaged 16.0 shots per game with a .112 shot percentage. A total of 16 Spartans have contributed to the offensive shooting, led by Adam Montague (17), Tim Kreutz.(11), Sean Conerty (11) and Jay Chapman (10).
Another Brick In The Wall
The Michigan State backline has been nearly perfect thus far in the 2013 season, only allowing two goals in five games, putting them first in the Big Ten in both goals allowed and goals against average (0.40). With only three games left before MSU breaks into the Big Ten schedule, the team is also No. 1 in the conference with four shutouts so far this season. The Spartans are fourth in the nation in shutout percentage (.80), ranked ninth in GAA (.40) and tied for eighth in save percentage (.900).
The Bluejay Brood
This is the first ever meeting between Michigan State and Creighton. Ranked No. 3 in the NSCAA poll, the Bluejays are 5-1-0 (1-0-0) on the season with their most recent game against Big East foe No. 7 St. John’s ending in a 1-0 overtime victory on Saturday, Sept. 21. Freshman Fabian Herbers scored the lone goal of the match in the 108th minute to secure the program’s 400th win. It was Creighton’s third-straight double overtime game.
Head coach Elmar Bolowich enters his third season at the helm of the Bluejays with a 42-7-4 record. Creighton returns 16 letterwinners from the 2012 squad that finished 14-3, including a Missouri Valley Conference title and NCAA College Cup appearance. The Bluejays are led by sophomore Timo Pitter (3-1-7), freshman Fabian Herbers (2-2-6) and senior Sean Kim (2-2-6).
Assistant coach Kylie Stannard is a former Blujay, competing for Creighton from 1996-99. He recorded one goal and three assists as the team won two back-to-back Missouri Valley Conference Championships in 1997 and 1998. He was a member of the team that reached the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight on two occasions and advanced to the Final Four his freshman season. In all, Stannard helped the Bluejays to a total of 60 wins in his four-year career.
Battle With The BIG EAST
In July, Creighton officially became the 10th member of the BIG EAST Conference. Along with Butler and Xavier, the Bluejays joined DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, Seton Hall, St. John’s and Villanova. All-time, the Spartans own a 15-4-3 record against the current members of the BIG EAST. Four members competed in the 2012 NCAA Tournament with Georgetown finishing as a runner-up to National Champion Indiana.
As the reigning Big Ten Tournament Champions, MSU entered the season ranked second in the 2013 Big Ten preseason coaches' poll with 21 returning Spartans.
Ranked No. 4 in the Big Ten by TopDrawerSoccer.com, Kevin Cope returns for his final season as a team captain for the Spartans. He was recognized on TopDrawerSoccer.com's Preseason Best XI second team and is ranked No. 22 of the top-100 Division I players.
Adam Montague, also a team captain, was ranked sixth in the conference by TopDrawerSoccer.com's heading into the 2013 season after posting a goal in every game of the 2012 Big Ten Tournament. He is also No. 47 in the country on TopDrawerSoccer.com's top-100.
After recording his first career goal in his inaugural start as a Spartan, freshman Dewey Lewis was named Big Ten Player of the Week by College Soccer Madness on Sept. 2. Lewis stole the ball away from a Bronco defender and beat the keeper to earn an unassisted goal.
In addition to Dewey Lewis’ first career goal scored against Western Michigan in his Spartan debut, redshirt senior Ryan Thelen scored his first career goal on Sept. 6 against Oregon State. The game-winning goal was scored off Thelen’s seventh corner kick of the game, hooked into the back right corner of the net to give the Spartans a 1-0 victory.
With the win, MSU improved to 2-0 which marked the first time the Spartans started with a two-game shutout since 2007 under former head coach Joe Baum. It was the first 2-0 start to the season for head coach Damon Rensing and the first time in the Rensing era that the Spartans had not allowed a goal in the first two games
Redshirt senior Kevin Cope was chosen as one of 30 candidates for the 2013 men's collegiate soccer 2013 Senior CLASS Award®, presented by Premier Sports Management. He is only the second candidate from MSU men’s soccer program to be a candidate for the award established for the sport in 2007, as 2008 captain Doug DeMartin was in the top-30 his senior season.
An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School ®, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on notable achievements in four areas of excellence - community, classroom, character and competition.
The two-time captain has already made a huge impact on the pitch for the Spartans this season. Recording one career goal prior to 2013, Cope has scored two goals in MSU’s three games thus far.
In true Spartan fashion, MSU is slated for another tough season of quality non-conference games in addition to a challenging Big Ten conference schedule. Seven NCAA Tournament teams from a year ago, including National Champion Indiana and semifinalist Creighton, help make up the 2013 slate.
At The Helm
Head Coach Damon Rensing is in his fifth season as head coach, but embarks on his 15th on the Spartan sideline after a standout career for the Spartans (1993-96). Rensing is 47-34-10 in his five seasons as head coach, but MSU boasts a 126-75-21 (.622) overall record with Rensing on the sidelines, including 11 or more wins in nine 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. Stannard and Pirmann have both served as the head coach of Detroit City FC, which plays in the National Premier Soccer League. Stannard made his debut in 2012, while Pirmann coached the team in 2013. Former MSU keeper Jeremy Clark, who played for MSU 2008-11, is now in his second season as the team's volunteer coach.
Big Ten Broadcast Schedule
The Big Ten Network will televise two Michigan State men's soccer games live this season. MSU's showdown with Ohio State at DeMartin Stadium is the first game (Oct. 13), and the other home game which will be shown is the Nov. 5 matchup with Notre Dame. The Spartans' games against Valparaiso (Sept. 8), Penn State (Oct. 20) and Michigan (Nov. 9) will be broadcast on Big Ten Digital Network; a paid subscription is necessary. The Big Ten Network will also televise the Big Ten Tournament, which will be held Nov. 15-17 at Ohio State.
The game against Creighton will be broadcast live at GoCreighton.com; paid subscription is necessary. Follow along with the game through live stats available on Gametracker on GoCreighton.com and follow @MSUMSoccer on twitter for play-by-play updates during the game.
The Spartans will return home this upcoming weekend to take on North Illinois on Saturday, Sept. 28 at 2 p.m.