Oct. 31, 2013
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Continuing conference play, the No. 22 Michigan State men's soccer team (8-3-3, 1-2-1) will complete its road stretch with the defending NCAA Champions Indiana (5-10-1, 1-3-0). The game will take place on Friday, Nov. 1 at 7 p.m. ET at the Bill Armstrong Stadium in Bloomington.
"I don't expect much different from last year quite honestly," said head coach Damon Rensing. "They have a lot of the same attacking pieces and some additions. I don't think they are that far off from last year, give or take a couple wins. They will be a very good attacking team and we're going to have to deal with some things.
"I think we got a renewed urgency. I think they are determined to get back in the win column and we're excited for the opportunity. I think we've got a veteran group here. It's hard to come out and play perfect for 18 games a year. Unfortunately, a couple of times that we may have not played as great we lost and sometimes you can win those games. I expect our guys to come back with a good game on Friday."
In the Rankings
In the NCAA men's soccer RPI rankings released on Oct. 28, Michigan State sits at No. 15 in the nation. The Spartans remain the second 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 20th by TopDrawerSoccer.com, No. 22 in the official NSCAA poll, 21st in the SoccerTimes.com poll, No. 25 by College Sports Madness, 30th in the College Soccer News poll. Regionally, the Spartans are seventh in the NSCAA Great Lakes poll.
Currently, the Spartans (1-2-1) are fourth in the Big Ten standings. MSU leads the Big Ten in goals against average (0.67), fewest goals allowed (10) and assists per game (2.14). The team is No. 2 in total assists (30), total shots (249) and total saves (72). While tied for second in shutouts (8), MSU is also third in total points (76) and goals per game (1.64 avg.).
MSU had the third-best save percentage (.878) in the nation. They are also tied for seventh in shutout percentage (.57), rank ninth in assists per game (2.14), are tied for No. 12 in total assists (30) and their 0.67 GAA ranks 15th in the country. The Spartans are also No. 24 in points per game (5.43).
Last Time Out
The Michigan State men's soccer team dropped a 1-0 decision to Wisconsin on Sunday afternoon in Madison, suffering its first road loss of the season as the Badgers handed MSU its first shut out of 2013.
The Spartans maintained possession to kick off the first half and continued to stay in Wisconsin territory. Tim Kreutz had an early shot that was hit over the cross bar before Zach Bennett made a huge save for MSU. Despite some strong defensively play, a Badger surge led to a Spartan own goal to put Wisconsin up 1-0 in the 26th minute. Andrew Herr tried to send in an equalizer before the end of the half, but the Badger keeper kept it out of the net.
MSU came out refocused in the second half, however, the Badger defense continued to keep the Spartans offensive attacks at bay throughout the second half. Brent McIntosh drove in a huge shot on goal that was deflected off the hands of the Badger keeper to try and spark the Spartan offense with under 20 minutes to play. Despite MSU creating good attacking play, the Spartans ran out of time to find a goal before the end of regulation.
Redshirt senior Kevin Cope was chosen as one of 10 finalists 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 at Northwestern. 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 50 shots and 3.85 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 then-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 0.67 goals against average and second with a .877 Sv%. He is also tied for first in shutouts (8), No. 2 in shutouts per game (0.57), saves (71) and saves per game (5.07 avg.). The sophomore is also No. 6 in the nation in save percentage and is 17th in the country in goals against average.
Another Brick In The Wall
The Michigan State backline has been nearly perfect thus far in the 2013 season, only allowing 10 goals in 14 games (0.71 avg.), first in the Big Ten. MSU is also tied for second in the conference with eight shutouts so far this season. The Spartans are currently tied for No. 7 in the nation in shutout percentage (.57) and 15th with a .67 GAA.
Honing In On The Hoosiers
The Spartans hold an all-time record of 13-35-4 against Indiana, with the most recent meeting between the two teams ending in a 2-1 win for MSU in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament in 2012. The Hoosiers, who are 5-10-1 on the season, are returning home after dropping a 2-1 decision at Michigan on Oct. 26.
"They are a well-coached team," said Rensing. "Femi (Hollinger-Janzen) up top can stretch and they have a group of guys in that three underneath Femi that have good moving pieces, are technical, play good soccer and are athletes. Those four and (Harrison) Petts releases pretty well out of a holding mid. Those five guys are dangerous. Their wingbacks will get forward a little bit. It will be a difficult task."
In his third season at the helm of the Hoosiers, Todd Yeagley owns a 44-27-11 record and returns a total of 19 letterwinners from the 2012 NCAA National Championship squad that finished 16-5-3 overall with a 3-2-1 conference record. Indiana is led by Tommy Thompson (5-1-11), Femi Hollinger-Janzen (5-0-10) and A.J. Corrado (2-5-9). In goal, Michael Soderlund owns a 1.68 GAA with a .644 Sv%, playing in 15 of the Hoosiers' games this season.
The Battle For The Big Ten
Sunday's matchup marks the fifth Big Ten game of the season for the Spartans. Indiana is sixth in the conference standings at 1-3-0 and lead the conference in shots this season (249) and is third in total goals (26).
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 fell to Penn State (Oct. 20), before losing on the road to Wisconsin (Oct. 27). 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 53-62-12 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.
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 51-36-13 (.575) in his five seasons as head coach, but MSU boasts a 130-76-24 (.617) 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.
Big Ten Broadcast Schedule
The Big Ten Network will televise two home 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 home games against Valparaiso (Sept. 8) and Penn State (Oct. 20), the Spartans game against Michigan (Nov. 9) will also 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 at IUHoosiers.com and follow @MSUMSoccer on twitter for play-by-play updates during the game.
The Spartans will be back in action as they return home to host Notre Dame on Tuesday, Nov. 5 at 3 p.m. ET.