Spartans Welcome No. 2 Akron on Wednesday
Oct. 31, 2012
Michigan State hosts No. 2 Akron at DeMartin Stadium in the Spartans' last home game of the season. MSU enters Wednesday's contest riding a season-high three-game winning streak, is 8-7-0 on the season and 3-2-0 in the Big Ten.
MSU defeated No. 16 Indiana 3-1 on Sunday, keeping them in contention for the regular-season Big Ten title. Freshman Jay Chapman led the way, completing a hat trick - the first three goals of his collegiate career. Ryan Thelen and Adam Montague each had two assists on the day. Freshman keeper Zach Bennett made four saves and earned his fifth win in six starts.
Sunday's win puts Michigan State in a tie for third place in the Big Ten standings with Indiana, behind Penn State and Northwestern. Penn State has completed its Big Ten regular season games, while Indiana hosts Northwestern on Thursday. The Spartans must now root for Indiana to defeat or earn a tie with the Wildcats - that would set up a situation where with a victory over Michigan, MSU could either claim a share of the Big Ten title (if IU wins) or win it outright if the Hoosiers and Wildcats play to a draw.
Indiana's goal in the 78th minute snapped a scoreless streak of 300:11 for keeper Zach Bennett and the Spartan defense. Bennett owns the best save percentage (.833) and the second- best GAA in the Big Ten (0.67). In his six starts, he owns three shutouts, and has allowed more than one goal only once - in a 2-1 loss at Penn State in which the game-winner was a Spartan own goal.
Freshman Jay Chapman was named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week for his hat trick against the Hoosiers. Last week, the Spartans swept the awards - Domenic Barone was the Offensive Player of the Week, and Zach Bennett earned the honors on the defensive side of the ball.
Adam Montague continues to lead the team in scoring with four goals and four assists while Domenic Barone, Jay Chapman and Luke Norman all have tallied three goals each. Senior Ryan Thelen is the team's leading assist man (and second in the league) with seven on the season.
Akron enters Wednesday's contest with a 13-1-2 record and are on a 10-game win streak, outscoring opponents 28-1 during that stretch. The Spartans are 10-23-1 all-time against the Zips and 6-10-0 when the teams play in East Lansing. Last year when the two teams met, Michigan State beat Akron 1-0, ending the Zips' 48-game home unbeaten streak.
Akron defeated conference opponent Hartwick on Saturday, securing the Zips eighth straight MAC title.
Akron is led by Reinaldo Brenes who has 10 goals and two assists on the year and Scott Caldwell who has eight goals and five assists. Dillon Serna and DeAndre Yeldin are the team's leading assist men, with eight and six respectively.
David Meves is the likely goalkeeper for Akron as he has played every minute in net so far this year for the Zips. Meves has allowed just six goals in 16 games, recording 12 shutouts, and owns the second best GAA in the nation (0.36) and third best save percentage (.880).
Five teams on MSU's 2012 slate appear in this week's NSCAA 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. 16, while Northwestern and Penn State are receiving 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.
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.
Michigan State travels to Ann Arbor to take on Michigan on Saturday for their final regular-season Big Ten game. Kickoff time is 7 p.m.