Oct. 26, 2012
Michigan State takes on No. 16 Indiana on Sunday at DeMartin Stadium in their second of three straight home games to end the regular season. The Spartans are 7-7-1 and 2-2-0 in Big Ten play and have won four of five entering Sunday's matchup. The Hoosiers are 10-3-2 overall and hold a 3-1 record in the conference.
The three Spartan seniors will be honored in a post-game ceremony at the conclusion of Sunday's game. Domenic Barone, Nick Wilson, and Luke Norman will be joined by their families on the field to be honored and thanked for their contributions to the program.
MSU's three-straight home games is the longest homestand for the Spartans this season. In fact, MSU has played back-to-back games at home only once.
Michigan State is 10-35-3 all-time against Indiana with a 4-13-1 record in home games against the Hoosiers. Last season in Bloomington, the Spartans rallied from a 2-0 deficit with two goals in four minutes midway through the second half to forge a 2-2 deadlock.
The Spartans are coming off a two-win week with a 1-0 victory over Oakland on Wednesday before defeating Wisconsin 2-0 on Sunday. In Sunday's match, Domenic Barone scored on a penalty kick in the first half to give the Spartans the early lead. MSU extended the lead in the second half when Adam Montague put back a rebound off a shot by Nick Wilson to give the Spartans the 2-0 edge. Meanwhile, freshman goal keeper Zach Bennett recorded his second straight shutout and third of the season, extending his scoreless streak to 222:48.
Barone and Bennett's effort earned them Big Ten honors as they swept the weekly awards, earning Offensive and Defensive player of the week.
Freshman keeper Zach Bennett has stared the last five games for the Spartans, with his first coming against Ohio State. The team is 4-1 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.
Adam Montague leads the team in scoring with four goals and two assists. Domenic Barone and Luke Norman each have three goals and two assists. Senior Ryan Thelen is the team's leading assist man, and tied for third in the league, with five on the season.
Indiana is 10-3-2 overall and 3-1-0 in conference play and enter Sunday's matchup ranked 14th in the country and are second in the Big Ten standings.
The Hoosiers are led by Eriq Zavaleta who ranks fifth- nationally in goals (13) and seventh in points (28). A.J. Corrado ranks fifth in the nation and leads the Big Ten in assists with nine on the season. Luis Soffner is the likely goalkeeper for Indiana. Soffner has allowed just 10 goals through 15 games and leads the Big Ten in save percentage (.844) and is second in both GAA (0.64) and saves (54).
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. 2 Akron, No. 3 Connecticut, No. 5 Marquette, and No. 8 Notre Dame. Indiana is No. 14, while Northwestern and Penn State received votes.
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.
Just five field players have appeared in all 15 games for MSU this season - Adam Montague, Luke Norman, Ryan Thelen, Ryan Keener, and Kevin Cope.
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.
Michigan State welcomes No. 2 Akron to DeMartin Stadium on Wednesday for the Spartans final home game of the season. Kickoff time is 3 p.m.