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No. 18 Michigan State Hosts Ohio State in Sunday's Big Ten Home-Opener

The Spartans are currently ranked No. 1 in the NCAA RPI rankings for the first time in MSU history.

Oct. 11, 2013

WATCH: Coach Rensing's Press Conference

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EAST LANSING, Mich. - After a well-deserved break, the 18th-ranked Spartan men's soccer team will return home to DeMartin Stadium to host Ohio State on Sunday, Oct. 13 at 1 p.m. Michigan State's Big Ten home-opener will be broadcast live on the Big Ten Network. The game will also be "Camper Appreciation Day", welcoming participants back with free admission to the game.

In the Rankings
In the NCAA men's soccer RPI rankings released on Oct. 7, Michigan State holds the top spot after improving to 7-1-1 on the season, including a 3-0-1 road record. It is the first time in program history that the Spartans have held the top spot in the nation. The RPI, or rating percentage index, weights three factors including a team's Division I winning percentage, opponent strength of schedule and opponent's opponent strength of schedule.

Michigan State also surged to 12th by Soccer America, No. 13 by, 16th in the poll, 17th by College Sports Madness, No. 18 in the NSCAA poll and 22nd in the College Soccer News poll. Regionally, the Spartans are No. 2 in the NSCAA Great Lakes poll.

Currently, the Spartans are second in the Big Ten standings, just behind Penn State. They lead the Big Ten in goals against average (0.64), fewest goals allowed (six) and assists per game (2.44), as well as tied for first in total assists (22). The team is No. 2 in shutouts (6), tied for second in total shots (146) and goals per game (2.00 avg.), and is sitting at third in total points (58), total saves at 42 and tied for third for total goals (18)

MSU is tied for fifth in the nation in shutout percentage (.67), seventh in save percentage (.875), ninth in assists per game (2.44), tied for 10th in total assists (22) and in won-lost-tied percentage (.833), is No. 15 in points per game (6.44), is 20th in goals against average (.64) and tied for 20th in scoring offense with two goals per game.

Last Time Out
With a dramatic final-minute goal in double overtime, Michigan State defeated No. 5 Northwestern, 3-2 in Evanston, Ill., on Sunday afternoon. After earning a win in its first Big Ten game of the season, MSU improved their overall record to 7-1-1.

With two back-to-back free kicks, Thelen took advantage of a deflection on the second one and sent it in to tie the score 1-1 in the 74th minute. It was his second goal scored this season.
Less than four minutes later, Adam Montague attacked the net and passed the ball to Tim Kreutz who easily finished the goal for his fourth of the season and sixth of his career. The Spartans took the lead, 2-1, with under 13 minutes left in the game. Northwestern forced double overtime but the Spartans kept fighting for an opportunity before McIntosh set up Montague who bounced a header into the goal in the final minute of double overtime. It was the third-straight year that the meeting between the two teams has been sent into double overtime.

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:

"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."

Conference Recognition
Junior forward Adam Montague was named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week for the first time in his career, as announced by the conference office on Monday. Scoring his second game-winning goal in as many games, Montague bounced a header into the net in the final minute of double-overtime on Sunday. Leading the team in shots this season, Montague sent in his seventh shot of the game off an assist from Brent McIntosh to tie for first in the Big Ten with his third game-winning goal of the season.

His 3.78 shot per game average leads the conference. He also recorded an assist in the team's first Big Ten win of the season and the first road win over Northwestern since 2001. Though he was held to just three shots at Illinois-Chicago on Tuesday, he earned his second goal of the season with a shot off an assist from Jay Chapman to put the Spartans up 1-0 at Flames Field.

For two-straight weeks, goalkeeper Zach Bennett was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week 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, he 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 .872 Sv%, goals against average (0.64), shutouts per game (0.67 avg.), and shutouts (6),and is also No. 2 in saves per game (4.56 avg.) and third in saves (41). The sophomore is also No. 8 in the nation in save percentage and is 21st 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 nine games this season, MSU has outshot its opponents, for a total of 146-120. Tied for second in the conference in total shots, the team has averaged 16.2 shots per game with a .123 shot percentage. A total of 16 Spartans have contributed to the offensive shooting, led by Adam Montague (34), Tim Kreutz (23), Jay Chapman (19), and Sean Conerty (18).

Another Brick In The Wall
The Michigan State backline has been nearly perfect thus far in the 2013 season, only allowing six goals in nine games (0.67 avg.), first in the Big Ten. MSU is also second in the conference with six shutouts so far this season. The Spartans are currently ranked fifth in the nation in shutout percentage (.67).

Ohio State's Nuts & Bolts
The Spartans holds an all-time record of 23-18-2 over Ohio State, with the most recent meeting between the two teams resulting in 2-1 win for MSU in Columbus in 2012. This will be the third conference game for the Buckeyes (2-6-3) after falling to Indiana, 2-0 in Bloomington and at home to Michigan, 1-0 on Sunday. They are ranked first in the conference with a total of 71 saves on the season.

Entering his 17th season as head coach, John Bluem owns a 168-124-46 record and returns 11 letterwinners from the 2012 squad. Ohio State is led by Sage Gardner (1-1-3), Christian Soldat (1-1-3) and Ryan Ivancic (1-0-2). In goal, Alex Ivanov owns a 0.96 GAA with a .867 Sv%, playing in 10 of the Buckeyes' 11 games this season and leads the conference in saves with 65.

Breaking Into Big Ten Play
Sunday's matchup marks the Big Ten home-opener for the Spartans. MSU owns a record of 31-11-6 in Big Ten home-openers, including a 8-3-1 record when opening conference play at home against the Buckeyes.

Penn State is currently atop the conference standings at 2-0-0 and Northwestern is currently the Big Ten's highest ranked team at No. 14.

MSU will play a total of six conference opponents prior to the conference tournament beginning Nov. 13. After defeating 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 it 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 53-61-11 record against the current members of the league including three Big Ten Tournament Championship titles in 2004, 2008 and 2012.

The `Golden' Win
In addition to earning the first Big Ten win of the season and defeating Northwestern in Evanston for the first time in his career, the dramatic victory on Sunday also marked Damon Rensing's 50th career win as head coach.

DeMartin Dominance
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 54-35-11 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 (1988-89).

Preseason Honors
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, Kevin Cope returns for his final season as a team captain for the Spartans. He was recognized on'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'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's top-100.

National Spotlight
After heading in the game-winning goal to defeat Northwestern 3-2 in double overtime, Adam Montague was named to the College Soccer News National Team of the Week on Monday and the College Soccer Madness Big Ten Player of the Week on Tuesday. Playing a key role in the Spartans back-to-back road wins, he also put a rebound in the back of the net to top UIC, 2-0.

Receiving some well-deserved recognition, Fatai Alashe was named National Player of the Week on Oct. 1 by 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.

Spartan Firsts
As the Spartans earned a dramatic win over conference leader Northwestern in their first Big Ten game of the season, it also marked the first time that Michigan State has beaten the Wildcats in Evanston since 2001. The game was also the first double-overtime win for the Spartans since they defeated Indiana in Bloomington in 2009.

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

Senior Standout
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 for the Spartans this season.

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 50-34-11(.579) in his five seasons as head coach, but MSU boasts a 129-75-22 (.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.

Tune In
Follow along with the game through live stats available on Gametracker on and follow @MSUMSoccer on twitter for play-by-play updates during the game. The game against the Buckeyes will also be the first televised game of the season for the Spartans, airing at 1 p.m. ET on the Big Ten Network.

Next Up
Hosting a mid-week match-up, the Spartans will face Oakland on Wednesday, Oct. 16 at 4 p.m. ET.



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