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No. 14 Spartans Host Oakland In Mid-Week Matchup

Zach Bennet's .873 save percentage ranks first in the Big Ten.

Oct. 15, 2013

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EAST LANSING, Mich. - Continuing a home-field stretch, the No. 14 Michigan State men's soccer team will play host for a mid-week game against the Oakland Golden Grizzlies on Wednesday, Oct. 16 at 4 p.m.

In the Rankings
In the NCAA men's soccer RPI rankings released on Oct. 14, Michigan State remains in the top-10, ranked No. 8 with a record of 7-1-2 on the season. The Spartans are the highest-ranked Big Ten team in the RPI rankings. 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.

The Last Meeting
Michigan State1
October 17, 2012
Rochester, Mich.
MSU Posts 1-0 Win at Oakland
Michigan State got a shutout from freshman keeper Zach Bennett for the second time in three games, while senior Domenic Barone headed in the game's lone marker as the Spartans downed Summit League leader Oakland, 1-0, on Wednesday evening in Rochester, Mich.

Michigan State is also ranked 13th by No. 14 in the NSCAA poll,16th in the poll,19th by College Sports Madness, No. 21 by Soccer America and 22nd in the College Soccer News poll. Regionally, the Spartans are tied for second with Louisville 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 (0.66), fewest goals allowed (seven) and assists per game (2.30). The team is No. 2 in shutouts (6), total assists (23), total shots (182), total saves (49) and goals per game (1.90 avg.), and is tied for third in total points (61).

MSU is tied for No. 3 in the nation in save percentage (.875), sixth in shutout percentage (.60), seventh in assists per game (2.30), is No. 12 in won-lost-tied percentage (.800), tied for 14th in total assists (23), is No. 15 in points per game (6.10) and sits at 16th in goals against average (.66).

Last Time Out
In the third double-overtime game of the season, the Michigan State men's soccer team tied Ohio State on Sunday at DeMartin Stadium. The Spartans are now 7-1-2 on the season, 1-0-1 in the Big Ten. MSU recorded a season-high 36 shots on the day, an additional 13 past its previous season-high of 23 at Northwestern.

Michigan State was able to capitalize in the 64th minute as Adam Montague sent in a header on his seventh shot of the game off a corner kick from Ryan Thelen.  Montague, who leads the conference in shots (43) and shots per game with a 4.30 average, recorded his fourth goal of the season to give MSU a 1-0 lead.

After the Spartans defended additional chances for the Buckeyes, Ohio State's Kofi Agyapong passed a ball to Ryan Ivancic who slotted it in the box from the left wing to tie the game 1-1 with under six minutes remaining in regulation.

MSU attempted to take the lead before the end of the half as Thelen set up another header for Montague, but the Ohio State keeper made a save to send the game into overtime. Neither team could regain the lead through double-overtime, and they match ended in a draw in front of a season-high of 2,032 in attendance.

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 on Oct. 7. 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 43 shots and 4.30 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. It marked the third weekly honor for the Plano, Texas, native who has played in every minute of the 2013 season.

Bennett is currently first in the Big Ten with a .873 Sv%, goals against average (0.66), is No. 2 in shutouts per game (0.60 avg.), shutouts (6), saves (48) and saves per game (4.80 avg.). The sophomore is also No. 4 in the nation in save percentage and is 17th in the country in goals against average.

Through 10 games this season, MSU has outshot its opponents, for a total of 182-140. The Spartans recorded a season-high 36 shots against Ohio State, an additional 13 past its previous season-high of 23 at Northwestern. No. 2 in the conference in total shots, the team has averaged 18.2 shots per game with a .104 shot percentage. A total of 16 Spartans have contributed to the offensive shooting, led by Adam Montague (43), Tim Kreutz (28), Jay Chapman (23), and Sean Conerty (23).

Another Brick In The Wall
The Michigan State backline has been nearly perfect thus far in the 2013 season, only allowing seven goals in 10 games (0.70 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 sixth in the nation in shutout percentage (.60).

The Groundwork of the Grizzlies
The Spartans hold an all-time record of 8-20-3 against Oakland, with the most recent meeting between the two teams ending in a 1-0 shutout win for MSU in Rochester in 2012. Oakland, who is 5-2-5 on the season, is currently riding an eight game unbeaten streak after defeating Wright State 2-1 in Dayton, Ohio on Saturday.

In his fifth season as head coach, Eric Pogue owns a 38-37-13 record and returns 17 letterwinners from the 2012 squad that finished 11-7-1. The Grizzlies, who are now in the Horizon League, had the best record for their final season in the Summit League in 2012. Oakland is led by Joey Tinnion (6-2-14), Miche'le Lipari (4-1-9) and Matt Dudley (2-1-5). In goal, Sean Lewis owns a 0.73 GAA with a .812 Sv%, playing in 11 of the Grizzlies' 12 games this season.

State-ing Their Claim
With four in-state matchups on the 2013 schedule, a goal for the Michigan State men's soccer team is to win the state of Michigan. The Spartans made headway towards accomplishing the feat as they crossed off Western Michigan on Aug. 30 in their home-opening win, 4-0. With the game at Detroit (9/11) cancelled due to weather, the Spartans continue in their pursuit as they host Oakland on Wednesday and Michigan on Nov. 9.

Hovering Over the Horizon League
Wednesday's matchup with Oakland marks the fourth game this season against a member of the Horizon League. MSU recorded their only loss of the season to Valparaiso (Sept. 9) before the game against Detroit was indefinitely postponed on Sept. 11. The Spartans defeated Illinois-Chicago on Oct.1, 2-0, snapping a six-game winning streak for the Flames. All-time, the Spartans own a 56-44-15 record against the current members of the league including taking down 2012 Horizon League Tournament Champion Cleveland State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

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 Oct. 6 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 54-35-12 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 on Oct. 6 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 50-34-12 (.583) in his five seasons as head coach, but MSU boasts a 129-75-23 (.619) 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 was 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.

Next Up
Hosting another Big Ten match-up, the Spartans will face conference leader Penn State on Sunday, Oct. 20 at 2:30 p.m. ET.



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