Soccer Battles Western Michigan in Midweek Tilt
Men's Soccer Preview
Oct. 25, 2011
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Michigan State welcomes in-state rival Western Michgian for a midweek matchup. The Spartans are coming off two straight double-overtime deadlocks, while the Broncos look to snap a two-game skid. In addition, it brings Spartan assistant coach Ben Pirmann into a showdown with many of the athletes he coached the last two seasons before returning to help coach at his alma mater.
MSU a commanding lead in this all-time series, as the Spartans lead, 26-2-8. In games played at Old College Field, MSU is 14-1-4 all-time.
The Spartans have won six straight over the Broncos and are 15-0-2 in the series since WMU's last win, a 2-0 victory in 1993. MSU is also riding three straight shutouts, including a 5-0 win in Kalamazoo last season.
MSU is 4-7-4 (1-2-2 B1G) on the season, with all of its losses by a single goal and two of its losses coming in overtime. Only one game this season on MSU's ledger has seen one of the two teams score more than two goals in the contest - MSU's 3-0 victory at New Hampshire.
Western Michigan enters the week with an overall record of 5-10-1, and is 1-2-1 in MAC play.
Western Michigan's last game was a 3-1 loss to Eastern Illinois last Saturday. The Panthers took a commanding 3-0 lead before a late goal by Pat Schiffer which saved WMU from suffering a shutout. The Broncos also saw time from all three of its goalies in the loss.
Similar to the Spartans, the Broncos have suffered from a scoring drought this season, and generating offense can be, at times, a challenge. Shane Lyons is the team's leading scorer with a 6-1-13 line, while Kai Mendes' six assists lead the team and his 10 points ranks second. Mendes has a pair of goals, tied with four other players for second on the team in that category. Matt Murrell has been the keeper of record in 11 games, with three shutouts, a 1.44 GAA, and .729 save percentage.
Michigan State found themselves in an early 2-0 hole on the road against No. 13 Indiana on Sunday, but scored twice in a four-minute span midway through the second frame to send the game to extra periods. Neither team could capitalize in either overtime frame, forcing the teams to settle on a 2-2 deadlock. Senior Stephen Lucianek and freshman Adam Montague were the scorers for MSU, while Jeremy Clark made five saves for the Spartans, including one in overtime. MSU is now 3-1-1 in its last five games against the Hoosiers.
In six of MSU's 15 games, MSU has seen overtime periods. The Spartans have lost twice in overtime in golden goal situations, to Detroit in the season opener and to Georgetown in the second OT period. MSU settled on 1-1 deadlocks with Marquette and Northwestern on the road, played to a 0-0 tie with Bowling Green here last Wednesday, then the 2-2 tie with Indiana on the road this past Sunday.
MSU has scored the first goal of the game in only four of its matches this season- in the 3-0 shutout at New Hampshire, in Big Ten opener at Northwestern and against Milwaukee. The game against New Hampshire is also the only game that MSU has played this season in which one of the teams scored more than two goals.
Each of MSU's 15 goals this season have been scored by either a senior or a freshman. Freshman Adam Montague leads the team in scoring with four goals and two assists. Seniors Mark Barone and Rubin Bega each have two goals, while seniors Cyrus Saydee, Joe Paljaj, Stephen Lucianek, and Garret Back all have one marker. Freshmen Fatai Alashe, Kyle Rutz, and Ryan Keener each have one score as well.
Senior Jeremy Clark owns a 0.99 GAA and .784 save percentage, logging every minute of every game in net for the Spartans.
Three significant injuries have taken two All-Big Ten players out of the lineup - Domenic Barone was lost for the season before it began, and Kevin Cope was injured in the second game of the year against Connecticut - and Tim Kreutz has not played at all this season as well
The Spartan Ticket Office has announced that tickets for Sunday's game against archrival Michigan will be free of charge.
The men's basketball exhibition game on Sunday will require that the lots at Jenison Field House become a pay/pass lot in advance of the soccer game's noon start. Soccer fans are encouraged to utilize lot 62W, at the north end of Spartan Stadium, adjacent to the Old College Field complex (east of the Sparty Statue).
Sunday's game is the annual battle for the Big Bear Trophy, given annually to the winner of the MSU-UM contest. In addition, this is the men's soccer team's last regular-season home game, and the eight Spartan seniors will be honored at the conclusion of the game for their four years in Green & White.
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