Sept. 27, 2013
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Returning home after tying third-ranked Creighton, Michigan State men's soccer team (4-1-1) will host Northern Illinois (3-5-0) at DeMartin Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 28 at 2 p.m. The game will serve as `CASL Day' to recognize the Capital Area Soccer League and all members will receive free admission to the game. Following the conclusion of the game, the Spartans will host a meet and greet, and autograph signing with the team.
"It's all about being consistent," said head coach Damon Rensing. "Our guys have shown a level that they can play at over the last few games, not just at Creighton, but also against Bowling Green and Marquette. There are some things we can do better, but we have set a standard now that we just need to keep playing at and if we keep that standard up, I think we will win a lot of games."
Join The Chain
To promote the 2013 men's soccer campaign, senior goalkeeper Bryce Dobbins enlisted several Spartans from around MSU athletics to appear in a recent video he produced. Featuring Athletic Director Mark Hollis, head coach Damon Rensing and Sparty himself, Michigan State invites the entire Spartan nation to `Join the Chain' and watch the video on YouTube here: youtu.be/NEuuz1RX6KU.
"It might sound cliché, but I'm all about the program and I wanted to do something promotional wise that would be for the team, but at the same time helping my skills," said Dobbins. "(Assistant coach) Kylie (Stannard) likes to say that I did 95% and he did 5% because he came up with the idea. We wanted to do some type of video and we thought that this would be a good way to symbolize the team and connecting everyone who supports us. We thank everyone who helped make it possible."
In the Rankings
MSU is tied for No. 25 with Indiana in the SoccerTimes.com poll and is receiving votes in the NSCAA poll, the TopDrawerSoccer.com and the College Soccer News poll. Regionally, the Spartans are tied for fourth with Louisville in the NSCAA Great Lakes poll.
Currently, the Spartans are tied for first in the Big Ten in fewest goals allowed (four), second in goals against average (0.64), assists per game (2.33), tied for second in shutouts (four) and is No. 4 in total assists (14). MSU is fourth in the nation in assists per game (2.67), seventh in shutout percentage (.67), and are tied for tenth in total assists (16).
Last Time Out
In their first overtime match of the season, Michigan State battled No. 3 Creighton on Sept. 24 at Morrison Stadium in Omaha, Neb., to a 2-2 deadlock in double overtime. With the tie, the Spartans are now 4-1-1 on the season. Fatai Alashe put the Spartans on the board first when he put the ball in the net from six yards out after a long throw in from Ryan Thelen giving MSU a 1-0 lead in the 14th minute. It is the first goal scored this season by Alashe, the third of his career. With MSU's third shot of the night, Tim Kreutz made it count. Assisted by Jay Chapman, he finished off of another long throw by Thelen by heading in a goal to put the Spartans up 2-1 in the 52nd minute. It is the third-straight game that Kreutz has scored a goal, the fifth of his career.
Though the Spartans pushed Creighton into double overtime, neither team was able to take the lead and the game ended in a draw. It marks the first double overtime game for the Spartans since Sept. 30, 2012 against Northwestern and MSU's first tie since a scoreless draw with Valparaiso on Aug. 24, 2012.
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 is currently second in the Big Ten in goals against average with 0.55, save percentage at .840 and shutouts per game with a 0.67 average. In the 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 28th in the country in goals against average and save percentage. It is the third weekly honor for the Plano, Texas, native who has played in every minute of the 2013 season.
Through six games this season, MSU has outshot its opponents, for a total of 89-80. The team has averaged 14.8 shots per game with a .124 shot percentage. A total of 16 Spartans have contributed to the offensive shooting, led by Adam Montague (21), Tim Kreutz.(12), Sean Conerty (12) and Jay Chapman (11).
After scoring just one goal in each of his previous seasons, redshirt junior Tim Kreutz has scored a goal in three-straight games. He put the Spartans on the board at Marquette on Sept. 15, scored the lone goal to give MSU a win over Bowling Green on Sept. 18 and scored the first goal at No. 3 Creighton on Sept. 24. Leading the team in goals this season, he has recorded a .250 shot percentage in six games this season.
Another Brick In The Wall
The Michigan State backline has been nearly perfect thus far in the 2013 season, only allowing four goals in six games, tying them for first in the Big Ten. With only two games left before MSU breaks into the Big Ten schedule, the team is also second in the conference with four shutouts so far this season. The Spartans are currently ranked seventh in the nation in shutout percentage (.67).
Hunkering Down On The Huskies
Michigan State looks for its first program win against Northern Illinois as the Huskies own a 4-0-0 record against the Spartans. The last meeting between the two teams in 2006 ended in a 1-0 loss for MSU in East Lansing. In eight games this season, Northern Illinois is 3-5-0 after taking down St. Mary's 2-1 at the Northwestern Lakeside Classic on Sept. 22. Senior James Stevenson scored a pair of goals to give the Huskies a victory.
"The last time we played Northern Illinois was 2006," Rensing said. "I think we just have to be consistent, defend and get back to trying to play some shutout soccer. I think our offense is coming along where we are starting to score goals in games and if we can be organized defensively and capitalize on a few choices, I think we have good chance."
Entering his fifth season as head coach, Eric Luzzi owns a 41-30-6 record and returns 10 letterwinners from the 2012 squad that finished second in the Mid-American Confernce. The Huskies are led by Stevenson (3-1-7), junior Issac Kannah (3-0-6) and senior Sean Totsch (1-1-3). In goal, redshirt sophomore Andrew Glaeser owns a 0.97 GAA with a .760 Sv% in six games this season.
Mastering The MAC
Saturday marks the Spartans' third match up of the season against a member of the Mid-American Conference as MSU has already taken down Western Michigan (Aug. 30) and Bowling Green (Sept. 18). All-time, the Spartans own a 129-52-18 record against the current members of the MAC. MSU will face top-ranked Akron on Oct. 23, the 2012 MAC regular season and tournament champions who made it to the NCAA round of 16 before tying Creighton.
With thanks to Michigan State Sports Turf Manager Amy Foudy and her staff, DeMartin Stadium was revamped with a new field to open the 2013 season. MSU owns a 53-35-11 record while playing at DeMartin Stadium, which opened its gates in 2008. The Spartans have not had a losing season at Old College Field since 1989. In 57 years of play, MSU has had only two losing seasons at home in 1988-89.
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 47-34-11 in his five seasons as head coach, but MSU boasts a 126-75-22 (.614) 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.
Follow along with the game through live stats available on Gametracker on MSUSpartans.com and follow @MSUMSoccer on twitter for play-by-play updates during the game.
The Spartans will hit the road for their final non-conference game before the Big Ten schedule as they face University of Illinois-Chicago on Tuesday, Oct. 1 at 8 p.m. ET.