Men's Soccer Hosts Northwestern For Shot at Conference Crown
Nov. 1, 2008
EAST LANSING, Mich. -
The No. 25 Michigan State men's soccer team will play its biggest game of the year on Sunday (Nov. 2) at DeMartin Stadium when it hosts No. 6 Northwestern at 1 p.m. Not only would a Spartan victory clinch the Big Ten Championship, but the game will also serve as the final regular-season home game for legendary head coach Joe Baum. Baum, in his 32nd season as head coach, will retire at the end of the year.
"It's a great feeling (to play for the Big Ten Championship), especially since it's Joe's last year as head coach," said senior midfielder Zac Scaffidi. "It makes it even more special."
MSU enters Sunday's game with a six-game unbeaten streak (5-0-1) and an 8-1-1 record in its last 10 games. Mason native Doug DeMartin leads the Big Ten in goals (15) and points (32) and also ranks in the top-five in the nation in both categories.
Baum, a two-time national champion as a player at MSU, is one of just 23 coaches in the history of NCAA soccer to record 300 wins. He has coached over 50 All-Big Ten players through his career. Baum will remain on the Spartan staff next season as an assistant coach while current associate head coach, Damon Rensing, will take over has head coach.
"I think it would be the perfect cap on Joe's career," said Scaffidi. "Every Spartan that has come though here has wanted to win a championship."
The Series: The Spartans are 24-4-2 all time against Northwestern and hold a 12-1 advantage against the Wildcats in games played in East Lansing. The home team has won the last four regular-season meetings in the series.
In the Polls: A week after debuting in the NSCAA/adidas Top-25 poll, the Spartans remain in the poll this week at No. 25. MSU is also ranked No. 27 the College Soccer News Poll. Northwestern is currently No. 6 in both the NSCAA/adidas and CollegeSoccerNews.com polls.
DeMartin Dominates: Senior Doug DeMartin continues to lead the Big Ten in points (30) and goals (14). He scored once in MSU's win over Cincinnati, giving him 35 career goals and moving him into fifth place on MSU's all-time goals list. His 78 career points are ninth on the MSU all-time list. The Mason native's 14 goals this season are the most by a Spartan since Tom King scored 15 in 1982.
More Big Wins: The Spartans' wins over No. 14 UIC and No. 18 Michigan marked the second-consecutive year they have defeated two ranked opponents in back-to-back games. Last year, MSU downed No. 3 Notre Dame, 1-0, and No. 21 Michigan, 5-0.
Tough Competition: The Spartans are 3-2 against the five teams they have played that are currently ranked in the NSCAA/adidas Top-25 Poll. Today's game against Northwestern marks the sixth time the Spartans have faced a top-25 team this season.
Eight of the opponents on the Spartans' schedule this season participated in last year's NCAA Tournament.
Slamming the Door: Entering Wednesday's game at Bowling Green, sophomore goalkeeper Avery Steinlage had not allowed a goal in three games. The only goal he surrendered in the last five matches was a penalty kick vs. UIC. Steinlage entered the week with the top save percentage (.897) and saves-per-game average (5.83) in the conference.
Set Up Man: Senior Zac Scaffidi is currently in a first-place tie atop the Big Ten in assists with six. Scaffidi has doubled his career assists total, as he entered the 2008 season with a total of six.
Still Hot: The Spartans are still rolling as they are undefeated in their last six games at 5-0-1. Since losing to No. 15 Ohio State Sept. 21, MSU is 8-1-1.
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