Oct. 4, 2013
Michigan State Game Notes
EAST LANSING, Mich. - After earning the sixth shutout of the season and improving to 6-1-1 on the season, the Michigan State men's soccer team will open the Big Ten portion of the schedule against Northwestern (7-2-1) at Lakeside Field in Evanston, Ill., on Sunday, Oct. 6 at 2 p.m. ET.
“I think the guys have been pretty focused," said head coach Damon Rensing "They are the two-time defending regular season champs, so to me, if you want to win the Big Ten regular season, it’s got to go through Evanston. I think it’s a good way to start off the Big Ten season for us.”
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: http://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 ranked 25th by TopDrawerSoccer.com and SoccerTimes.com poll and is receiving votes in the NSCAA poll 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 first in the Big Ten in goals against average (0.49), fewest goals allowed (four) and assists per game (2.50), tied for first in shutouts (6) and total assists (20). They are also third for goals per game (1.88 avg.) and total saves at 36. MSU is fourth in the nation in assists per game (2.71), save percentage (.875) and shutout percentage (.71), tied for eighth in total assists (19), is 14th in points per game (6.43), tied for 17th in won-lost-tied percentage (.786) and No. 18 in goals against average (0.55).
Last Time Out
Snapping a six-game winning streak for Illinois-Chicago, Michigan State shutout the Flames, 2-0 in Chicago on Tuesday. Earning their sixth shutout of the season, the Spartans improved their 2013 record to 6-1-1 in their last game before the Big Ten slate. Adam Montague and Dewey Lewis each scored their second goal of the season in the second half to blank UIC and bring their five-game consecutive shutout run to a halt.
Though both teams were scoreless in the first half, the stalemate didn't last long into the second half as Jay Chapman recorded a shot on goal before assisting Montague who shot it in the net off of the rebound in the 57th minute and put MSU up 1-0. Leading the team in shots this season with 35, it was Montague's second goal of the season and 15th of his career. Illinois-Chicago came back firing with two back-to-back shots on goal and Bennett coming up with key saves for the Spartans. MSU stifled the UIC attack as Dewey Lewis volleyed home a rebound off a corner kick from Ryan Thelen to give Michigan State at 2-0 lead in the 74th minute. It is the second-career goal for the freshman Spartan.
For two-straight weeks, goalkeeper Zach Bennett was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week as announced by the conference office on Sept. 16 and 23. Bennett’s career-high eight saves helped the Spartans to their second-straight shutout against Bowling Green with a 1-0 home win on Sept. 18. With the help of his backline, the Plano, Texas native earned his third shutout in four games as the Spartans blanked Marquette on the road on Sept. 15.
Bennett is currently first in the Big Ten with a .897 Sv%, goals against average (0.49), and shutouts per game (0.75 avg.), is tied for first in shutouts (6), is No. 2 in saves per game (4.38 avg.) and third in saves (36). The sophomore is also No. 7 in the nation in save percentage and is tied 17th in the country in goals against average. It marked the third weekly honor for the Plano, Texas, native who has played in every minute of the 2013 season.
Through eight games this season, MSU has outshot its opponents, for a total of 111-96. Sitting at No. 4 in the conference in total shots, the team has averaged 15.4 shots per game with a .122 shot percentage. A total of 16 Spartans have contributed to the offensive shooting, led by Adam Montague (27), Jay Chapman(18), Tim Kreutz (17) and Sean Conerty (16).
Another Brick In The Wall
The Michigan State backline has been nearly perfect thus far in the 2013 season, only allowing four goals in eight games (0.50 avg.), first in the Big Ten. Northwestern sits at No. 2 with seven goals allowed (0.78 avg.). After recording another shutout against UIC on Tuesday, MSU is also tied for first in the conference with six shutouts so far this season. The Spartans are currently ranked fourth in the nation in shutout percentage (.75).
Rounding Up The Wildcats
The Spartans holds an all-time record of 28-6-3 over Northwestern, with the most recent meeting between the two teams resulting in 1-1 draw for MSU in Evanston, Ill., in 2011. In the polls, fifth-ranked Northwestern, in the official NSCAA poll, is ranked high as No. 3 (Soccer America) and low as 18th (College Sports Madness). The Wildcats (7-2-0) were riding a seven-game winning streak before falling at home to Bradley, 3-2 in overtime on Wednesday. This will be the second Big Ten game for Northwestern, who owns a 1-0-0 conference record after blanking Michigan, 2-0 on Sept. 28 in Ann Arbor, Mich. They are also tied in the conference with MSU as both teams have recorded six shutouts on the season.
"I think they are a very balanced team with two players in each 18 that are difference makers," Rensing said. "Tyler Miller in goal can really help them not give goals up in their 18. Joey Calistri, who’s the leading goal-scorer in the country, can help them win the 18 in attacking and score goals. That’s a good recipe. They’re balanced at those two things. That will be a difficult task for us."
Entering his 13th season as head coach, Tim Lenahan owns a 131-89-34 record and returns 16 letterwinners from the 2012 squad that tied for first in the Big Ten regular season. The Wildcats are led by Joey Calistri (10-2-22), Brandon Medina (3-5-11) and Chris Ritter (2-2-6). In goal, Tyler Miller owns a 0.75 GAA with a .794 Sv%, playing the entirety of Northwestern’s nine games this season.
Entering Sunday’s match, both MSU and Northwestern have blanked six opponents this season, with the Wildcats scoring 14 total goals to the Spartans 12 in their shutout wins. Northwestern is the only other team in the conference to earn six shutouts and owns a .67 shutout percentage. Michigan State’s six shutouts in eight games gives them a .75 shutout percentage.
Breaking Into Big Ten Play
Sunday’s matchup with the first Big Ten matchup for the Spartans. MSU owns a record of 32-15-8 in Big Ten openers, including a 10-1-1 record when opening against the Wildcats. Northwestern is currently atop the conference standings and is the Big Ten’s highest ranked team. MSU will play a total of six conference opponents prior to the conference tournament beginning Nov. 13. After Northwestern on Oct. 6, the Spartans will host Ohio State (Oct. 13) and Penn State (Oct. 20), before playing on the road at Wisconsin (Oct. 27) and Indiana (Nov. 1). Michigan State will face off against in-state rival Michigan, who they defeated in double-overtime to win the 2012 Big Ten Tournament, on Senior Day in East Lansing on Nov. 9. All-time, the Spartans own a 52-61-11 record against the current members of the league including three Big Ten Tournament Championship titles in 2004, 2008 and 2012.
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.
Three members of the team were recognized by the Big Ten coaches as redshirt senior Kevin Cope and juniors Adam Montague and Fatai Alashe were named to the 2013 Players to Watch list.
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.
Receiving some well-deserved recognition, Fatai Alashe was named National Player of the Week on Oct. 1 by TopDrawerSoccer.com. With Kevin Cope currently out of the backline, midfielder/defender Fatai Alashe expanded his position on the field and lent his skills where the MSU needed them most. The veteran Spartan put Michigan State on the board with a goal at No. 3 Creighton on Sept. 24 and added an assist in the home victory over North Illinois on Sept. 28.
Following his first goal scored of the 2013 season in the Spartans' shutout win over Northern Illinois, sophomore Jay Chapman was named Big Ten Player of the Week by College Soccer Madness on Oct. 1. He recorded five shots and a game-winning goal to put the Spartans on the board over the Huskies, and earned an assist in the 2-2 draw against No. 3 Creighton.
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 49-34-11(.579) in his five seasons as head coach, but MSU boasts a 128-75-22 (.618) 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. In addition to the game against Valparaiso (Sept. 8), MSU will have two additional games against Penn State (Oct. 20) and Michigan (Nov. 9) that 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 NUSports.com and follow @MSUMSoccer on twitter for play-by-play updates during the game.
Continuing Big Ten play, the Spartans will return home to host Ohio State on Sunday, Oct. 13 at 1 p.m. ET.