Oct. 18, 2013
EAST LANSING, Mich. - With their eyes towards the Big Ten Championship, the No. 14 Michigan State (8-1-2, 1-0-1) men’s soccer team looks for a win over the current Big Ten leader No. 17 Penn State (8-3-1, 3-0-0) on Sunday, Oct. 20. Sunday will be Alumni Day for MSU soccer and include a double-header as the women face off against Indiana at noon before the men's game at 2:30 p.m. Both games will be streamed live on Big Ten Digital Network; a paid subscription is necessary.
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. 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.
Michigan State is also ranked 13th by TopDrawerSoccer.com. No. 14 in the NSCAA poll,16th in the SoccerTimes.com 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 (1-0-1) are second in the Big Ten standings, just behind Penn State (3-0-0). MSU leads the Big Ten in goals against average (0.60), fewest goals allowed (seven), assists (29) and assists per game (2.30). The team is No. 2 in shutouts (7), total assists (23), total shots (202), total saves (53), goals per game (2.00 avg.) and in total points (73). Michigan State is also third in the conference with 22 goals scored.
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 (.60).
Last Time Out
Recording the seventh shutout of the season, the Michigan State men's soccer team blanked Oakland 3-0 on Wednesday evening at DeMartin Stadium.
Not even 15 seconds into the game, Ryan Thelen and Tim Kreutz played in a ball that Jay Chapman sent into the net off a strike from the left to put the Spartans on the board. It was Chapman's second goal of the season, sixth of his career.
The Spartans turned in a few more shots before Sean Conerty passed the ball to Fatai Alashe who fought for it before Kreutz tapped it in the net in the 34th minute to give MSU a 2-0 lead. Kreutz, who recorded one goal in each of his previous seasons, recorded the fifth goal of this season, his seventh career-goal.
Kicking off the second half with a bang, Kreutz went one-on-one with the Oakland keeper and got past him to send in a goal from 15 yards out. His second goal of the game came off an assist from Adam Montague and Chapman to put the Spartans up 3-0 in the 47th minute.
Redshirt senior Kevin Cope was chosen as one of 10 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. Fan voting begins now through Nov. 25 at www.seniorclassaward.com/vote.
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.
“He’s certainly worthy of being in the top-10 when you look at the quality of a player he is and the quality of a young man and what he’s done both academically and in the community,” said head coach Damon Rensing. “That’s hard to balance all of those and he excels in all of them. I’m sure there are 10 other guys in the country who are doing the same things, but I can’t think of any the way that Kevin does it. That’s a testament to him and the support that we have here at Michigan State, both at the academic center, Angela Montie with the community service and how we try to do things her at Michigan State within the soccer program.”
The two-time captain has already made a huge impact on the pitch for the Spartans this season, despite missing five games. Recording one career goal prior to 2013, Cope has scored two goals in six games for MSU this season. As a member of the stout Spartan defense, he has helped Michigan State lead the Big Ten in fewest goals allowed with seven and goals against average (0.60) and has played in three of the Spartan’s seven shutouts this season.
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.”
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 47 shots and 4.27 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 .881 Sv%, goals against average (0.60) and shutouts per game (0.64). He is also No. 2 in shutouts (7), saves (52) and saves per game (4.73 avg.). The sophomore is also No. 4 in the nation in save percentage and is 17th in the country in goals against average.
Through 11 games this season, MSU has outshot its opponents, for a total of 202-149. The Spartans recorded a season-high 36 shots against Ohio State on Oct. 13, an additional 13 past its previous season-high of 23 at Northwestern. Second in the conference in total shots, the team has averaged 18.4 shots per game with a .109 shot percentage. A total of 16 Spartans have contributed to the offensive shooting, led by Adam Montague (47), Tim Kreutz (32), Sean Conerty (26) and Jay Chapman (24).
Another Brick In The Wall
The Michigan State backline has been nearly perfect thus far in the 2013 season, only allowing seven goals in 11 games (0.64 avg.), first in the Big Ten. MSU is also second in the conference with seven shutouts so far this season. The Spartans are currently ranked sixth in the nation in shutout percentage (.60).
The Line On the Nittany Lions
The Spartans hold an all-time record of 10-19-2 against Penn State, with the most recent meeting between the two teams ending in a 3-1 win for MSU in the Big Ten Tournament in Evanston, Ill., in 2012. Penn State, who is 8-3-1 on the season, is currently leading the conference with a 3-0-0 record after defeating Michigan 3-1 in University Park, Pa., on Oct. 11. Allowing just 10 goals this season, they rank second in the Big Ten, three behind MSU.
In his fourth season as head coach, Bob Warming owns a 40-25-9 record and returns 16 letterwinners from the 2012 squad that finished 9-5-3 overall and tied Northwestern for the Big Ten regular season title with a 3-1-2 record. The Nittany Lions are led by Mark Wadid (3-0-6) who is tied with Montague for first in the conference with three game-winning goals, as well as Martin Seiler (3-0-6) and Eli Dennis (2-2-6). In goal, Andrew Wolverton owns a 0.81 GAA with a .783 Sv%, playing in the entirety of Penn State’s 12 games this season.
Breaking Into Big Ten Play
Sunday’s matchup marks the third Big Ten game of the season for the Spartans. Penn State is currently atop the conference standings at 3-0-0 and is currently the ranked No. 17 in the NSCAA coaches poll.
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 tied Ohio State (Oct. 13) and will host 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 53-61-12 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 Oct. 6 also marked Damon Rensing’s 50th career win as head coach.
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 55-35-12 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).
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 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 Oct. 7 and the College Soccer Madness Big Ten Player of the Week on Oct. 8. 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 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.
En route to accomplishing a team goal of winning the state of Michigan, the Spartans scored a goal in the first 13 seconds of the game against Oakland. They went on to blank the Grizzlies, 3-0 to earn the seventh shutout this season.
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
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 51-34-12 (.583) in his five seasons as head coach, but MSU boasts a 130-75-23 (.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.
Red Cedar Recognition
The Red Cedar Rowdies were named Student Section of the Week by College Sports Madness on Oct. 17. Check out the feature here.
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.
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.
Taking another break from conference play, the Spartans will hit the road to take on No. 23 Akron on Wednesday, Oct. 23 at 7:30 p.m.