No. 22 Michigan State Concludes Road Stretch with Indiana
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
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 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.
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
"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."
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
Honing In On The Hoosiers
"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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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