Spartans Ready for No. 9 Indiana, Big Ten Tournament
Nov. 8, 2011
Michigan State (7-7-4, 2-2-2 B1G) travels to Ann Arbor to take on No. 9 Indiana in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament.
Michigan serves as the 2011 Big Ten Men's Soccer Tournament host at UM Soccer Stadium in Ann Arbor. All seven teams will compete for the Big Ten's automatic bid to the 2011 NCAA Tournament.
Quarterfinal games begin on Wednesday at 1 p.m. eastern; games will follow at 3:45 and 6:30 p.m. Friday semifinals are scheduled for 1 and 3:30 p.m., and Sunday's championship will kick off at noon.
Both Friday semifinals and Sunday's championship game will air live on the Big Ten Network.
Gametracker will be available for all games, and all information regarding the 2011 Big Ten Tournament can be found at www.mgoblue.com.
The Hoosiers hold a commanding lead in the all-time series, with a 35-10-4 record against the Spartans all-time.
Earlier this season, MSU rallied from a 2-0 deficit at halftime to earn a 2-2 overtime deadlock. MSU is 3-1-2 in the last five meetings with the Hoosiers, and 4-3-3 in the last 10 meetings, dating back to the start of the 2003 season.
In Big Ten Tournament play, Indiana holds a sim 3-2-0 record all-time. The teams have never met in the quarterfinal round, but have met twice in the semifinals and three times in the Championship game. The last meeting of the teams in the Big Ten Tournament was in 2008, when the Spartans downed IU, 1-0, to capture the Big Ten Tournament title after securing the regular-season crown as well.
MSU is 7-7-4 on the season, with all of its losses by a single goal and two of its losses coming in overtime. The Spartans are 5-1-2 since Oct. 5, and are coming off their biggest victory of the season, a 1-0 upset on the road at No. 6 Akron, which ended the Zips' 48-game home unbeaten streak.
A goal by senior Rubin Bega in the 86th minute gave Michigan State a hard-earned 1-0 upset victory over No. 6 Akron on Wednesday evening, abruptly ending Akron's 48-game home unbeaten streak.
Bega's winner came with 3:27 remaining in regulation. A long ball came down into the offensive third from Adam Montague for the senior, who was able to split the defense and lofted a soft shot over the head of the charging goalkeeper and into the back of the net. It was his fourth goal of the season.
The Spartans weathered long stretches of pressure by the home team, particularly the first 20 minutes of the second half in which the Akron offense attempted to wear down the MSU defense. Jeremy Clark was particularly sharp, smothering loose balls and making impressive saves on free kicks in the 67th and 74th minutes from just inside the 18 yard box.
MSU got its first shot on goal with about 10 minutes remaining in regulation, as the ball fell onto the feet of Joe Paljaj about 11 yards out, but he could not get a strong shot off to break up the scoreless tie.
Akron had a pair of late corner kicks, none more dangerous than the second one with just over two minutes remaining. After the ball was inserted into the box, Matt Daglis got a head on it, and several Zips players celebrated, thinking the ball was in; however, Clark made the big save right on the line to preserve the MSU shutout and victory.
Senior goalkeeper Jeremy Clark earned the Big Ten's Defensive Co-Player of the Week honors for the second consecutive week, as announced by the Big Ten office on Monday. To earn this week's nod, Clark recorded his second straight shutout, a 1-0 victory on the road at No. 6 Akron. Since Oct. 5, MSU has gone 5-1-2, fueled in great part by the play of Clark, who has posted a 0.58 GAA with four shutouts and an .868 save percentage over those eight games.
Last week, Clark made three saves in a midweek victory over in-state rival Western Michigan, and was stellar in the Spartans' showdown on Sunday afternoon with archrival Michigan. The Spartan keeper made five saves over the final five minutes of the game and nine on the day overall, to anchor Michigan State to the 1-0 victory over the Wolverines.
Three significant injuries have taken two All-Big Ten caliber players out of the lineup - Domenic Barone was lost for the season before it began, and Kevin Cope was injured in the second game of the year against Connecticut. Meanwhile, sophomore Tim Kreutz has missed the entirety of the season as well. Combined with the nagging injuries and usual bumps and bruises that players battle throughout the year, the medical list has been a significant factor for the Spartans all season.
Michigan State finished the regular season in fifth place in the Big Ten standings. MSU beat both Michigan and Penn State, tied league champion Northwestern and Indiana, (both on the road), and dropped one-goal decisions to Ohio State and Wisconsin.
Freshman Adam Montague is tied for sixth place in the Big Ten in points (13), is tied for eighth in goals (4), and is tied with senior Cyrus Saydee for fifth in the conference in assists with five. Jeremy Clark ranks fifth in GAA (0.89), is second in saves (76), second in save percentage (.817), and is tied for fourth in shutouts (5).
In six of MSU's 18 games, the Spartans have been forced to play overtime periods. The Spartans have lost twice in overtime in golden goal situations, to Detroit in the season opener and to Georgetown in the second OT period. MSU settled on 1-1 deadlocks with Marquette and Northwestern on the road, played to a 0-0 tie with Bowling Green on Oct. 19, and then the 2-2 tie with Indiana on the road on Oct. 23.
In eight of MSU's 18 games, late goals have been decision-making tallies. The Spartans have lost twice in overtime in golden goal situations, and allowed a marker with less than three minutes left in regulation at Northwestern to forge a 1-1 tie in the Big Ten opener. On the reverse side, MSU has twice gotten late goals from freshman Kyle Rutz - in the 79th minute to break a deadlock in a 2-1 win over UIC, and in the 86th minute last Wednesday for the eventual game-winner over Western Michigan. Fatai Alashe'sgoal in the 83rd minute forced a tie at Marquette on Sept. 16, and Adam Montague's tally in the 77th minute secured the Spartan's victory over Milwaukee. Ryan Keener's header in the 73rd minute was the difference in a 1-0 victory over Michigan. No decisive goal came later than in MSU's season finale victory at No. 6 Akron, as it was scored late in the 86th minute by Rubin Bega as the Spartans scored the upset.
Playing from Behind
Each of MSU's 19 goals this season has been scored by either a senior or a freshman. Freshman Adam Montague leads the team in scoring with four goals and five assists. Senior Rubin Bega shares the team lead with four goals, while senior Mark Barone and freshmen Ryan Keener and Kyle Rutz each have two. Seniors Cyrus Saydee, Joe Paljaj, Stephen Lucianek, and Garret Back all have one marker. Freshmen Fatai Alashe has one score as well.
In 18 games this season, the Spartans have gone to overtime six times, and each of its last five OT games has gone to the second overtime session. MSU is 0-2-4 in games which needed extra time.
Head Coach Damon Rensing's scheduling philosophy has always been to challenge his teams with a difficult schedule - and 2011 is no different. The Spartans have lined up against nine teams which qualified for the 2010 NCAA Tournament and MSU has played six teams this season in the most recent (Oct. 31) RPI top 40. MSU is 1-3-2 in those games, with all the losses coming by 1-0 scores. Four of MSU's non-conference games came against teams in the RPI Top 50, including current No. 4 UConn (L, 2-1), and No. 10 Akron (W, 1-0).
MSU has converted just one of three penalty kick opportunities this season, with Cyrus Saydee netting MSU's first of the season in the game against UIC (9/27). MSU missed a pair or penalty kick opportunities in the game against Georgetown, including one in the first overtime session.
Top Drawer Soccer has released their top 100 freshmen in Division I, and three first-year Spartan players are among that top 100:Fatai Alashe is ranked #44, Cody Henderson is #66, and the team's leading scorer, Adam Montague, is #86.
Thirteen of MSU's 19 goals this season have come after halftime. MSU has allowed 10 of its 17 goals after the intermission, including two in overtime.
The Big Ten Network has aired nine men's soccer games this fall, and, three featured Michigan State in Big Ten Conference matchups at DeMartin Stadium. The Spartans hosted Ohio State on Oct. 2 and Penn State a week later on Oct. 9, then also last week's game with Michigan. The Spartans were 2-1 in their televised games this season.
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