Oct. 20, 2012
Michigan State begins a three-game homestand with a Big Ten Conference matchup against Wisconsin. The teams enter Sunday's game with identical 1-2-0 records in Big Ten games; MSU is 6-7-1 overall, while the Badgers are 5-6-3.
MSU's three-straight home games is the longest homestand for th eSpartans this season. In fact, MSU has played back-to-back games at home only once.
MSU trails the all-time series with the Badgers by a 9-21-4 margin. Over the last four years, the home team has won - a trend the Spartans hope continue on Sunday.
The Spartans are coming off a 1-0 victory over Oakland on Wednesday. Domenic Barone headed in the games only goal, handing Oakland their first home loss on the season. Freshman goalkeeper Zach Bennett posted his second shutout in three games.
Freshman keeper Zach Bennett has stared the last four games for the Spartans, with his first coming against Ohio State. The team is 3-1 in those games with the only loss coming to Penn State, in which the game winner was off an own goal by the Spartan defense.
Luke Norman and Adam Montague lead the team in scoring, each with three goals and two assists for eight points and tied for 10th in the Big Ten in scoring.Senior Ryan Thelen is the team's leading assist man, and tied for third in the league, with five on the season. Senior Domenic Barone has recorded two goals and two assists on the season.
Four Spartans have recorded a goal and assist (Tim Kreutz, Fatai Alashe, Cody Henderson, and Nick Wilson).
Wisconsin is 5-6-3 overall and 1-2-0 in conference play. The Badgers are coming off back-to-back wins against Michigan and Green Bay.
Chris Prince is the team's leading scorer with 11 points on three goals and five assists. Nick Janus is fifth in the Big Ten with his team leading four goals. Drew Connor (2-1-5) and Jerry Maddi (2-1-5) have each scored twice. Sophomore Chase Rau is the likely keeper for the Badgers. He owns a 1.29 GAA and .709 on 39 saves on the season.
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 Connecticut, No. 5 Marquette, and No. 9 Notre Dame. Conference opponent Indiana is No. 11 and Northwestern is No. 24.
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.
MSU lost two players for the remainder of the season during the Big Ten/BIG EAST Challenge - Wesley Curtis sustained his injury against Notre Dame, and Kyle Rutz in the home game against Marquette. In addition, Brent McIntosh will miss the remainder of the season as well.
The Spartans have also had some other nagging injuries that have kept players on the sideline - midfielder Tim Kreutz has missed the last two games, and Domenic Barone has been in and out of the lineup.
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 Ohio State and was not eligible to play against Detroit.
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.
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. This past summer, Stannard made his debut as the head coach of Detroit City FC, which plays in the National Premier Soccer League. Former MSU keeper Jeremy Clark, (2008-11), is now in his first season as the team's volunteer coach.
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.
MSU appears Wisconsin. The Big Ten Network will also televise the Big Ten Tournament, which will be held Nov. 7-11 at Northwestern.
The Spartans have the week off and return to action on Sunday, October 28th when they welcome Big Ten-leading Indiana to DeMartin Stadium. Kickoff time is 1 p.m.