Spartans Head to Happy Valley for Showdown with PSU
Oct. 11, 2012
Michigan State gets back to Big Ten action on Sunday, traveling to Penn State for a mid-afternoon contest. MSU is 5-6-1 on the season and 1-1 in Big Ten play. The Nittany Lions are 1-1-1 in Conference games and own a 6-4-2 mark overall on the season.
The Spartans are coming off a 1-0 victory over Detroit on Wednesday. Luke Norman had the lone goal in the 86th minute on a rebound off an indirect kick, and freshman Zach Bennett made his second straight start in net, making two saves en route to his first collegiate shutout.
MSU's back-to-back victories over Ohio State (2-1) and Detroit is the first time the team has won two straight games this season. The beginning of this year has been eerily similar to last year's September start for the Spartans - significant injuries taking its toll on the lineup, and wins being at a premium. In 2011, MSU won its first back-to-back games on Oct. 4 (Milwaukee) and Oct. 9 (Penn State), consecutive wins that kicked off a 5-1-2 streak that carried the team through October.
Freshman keeper Zach Bennett has had a big week. He earned his first collegiate start last Sunday at Ohio State, and backstopped the Spartans to their first Big Ten win of the season. On Wednesday, he recorded his first collegiate shutout in a 1-0 victory over Detroit.
Luke Norman has taken over the team lead in scoring, with three goals and an assist for seven points. That total ties him for ninth in the Conference in scoring. Sophomore Adam Montague has a 2-2-6 scoring line, and Domenic Barone has a goal and two helpers, including the secondary assist on Norman's game-winner on Wednesday. Four Spartans have recorded a goal and assist (Tim Kreutz, Fatai Alashe, Cody Henderson, and Nick Wilson). Senior Ryan Thelen is the team's leading assist man, and tied for third in the league, with four on the season.
Penn State dropped a midweek decision to No. 3 Akron (2-0), and is 1-1-1 in Big Ten play; the Nittany Lions own a victory over Wisconsin, a loss to Indiana, and a tie with Michigan in its three league games thus far.
Julian Cardona is the team's leading scorer with five goals and an assist (11 points), while Daniel Burnham (2-2-6) and Kelton Cheney (2-0-4) have each scored twice. Two keepers have carried the bulk of the load: Sophomore Andrew Wolverton owns a 0.42 GAA and .833 save percentage in five games, while senior Emmanuel Martin has drawn seven starts, and has a .667 save percentage and 0.74 GAA.
Five teams on MSU's 2012 slate appear in this week's NSCAA National poll. Four of those teams (all MSU non-conference opponents) are in the current NSCAA Top 10: No. 3 Akron, No. 4 Marquette, No. 6 Connecticut, and No. 7 Notre Dame. Conference opponent Indiana is No. 12 while Northwestern also received votes.
Some significant injuries have shortened MSU's bench this season, with players being lost for the remainder of the year. Starting back Josh Barens has not seen the field at all this season, but is expected to be ready to go for spring training and games. He will apply for a medical redshirt season. Freshman Andrew Herr sustained a season-ending injury in the exhibition game vs. IPFW, and will also apply for a medical redshirt.
Just six field players have appeared in all 11 games for MSU this season - Adam Montague, Luke Norman, Ryan Thelen, Ryan Keener, and Kevin Cope. Fatai Alashe had started every game, but picked up his fifth yellow card of the season against the Buckeyes and was not eligible to play on Wednesday.
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.
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.
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 www.MSUSpartans.com, while coverage of the team on twitter can be found at @MSUMSoccer and @MSU_Athletics . On facebook, "like" us at www.facebook.com/pages/Michigan-State-Mens-Soccer.
After Sunday's game, Michigan State will appear once more on the Big Ten Network during the regular season - a home date on Oct. 21st against Wisconsin. The Big Ten Network will also televise the Big Ten Tournament, which will be held Nov. 7-11 at Northwestern.
The Spartans play again on the road next Wednesday at Oakland before returning home to play Wisconsin on Sunday, Oct. 21.
at the official