No. 18 Michigan State Hosts Michigan in Battle For Big Bear
Nov. 8, 2013
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EAST LANSING, Mich. - In the final match of the regular season, the No. 18 Michigan State men's soccer team (9-4-3, 2-2-1) welcomes in-state rival Michigan (8-5-3, 3-2-0) to DeMartin Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 9 at 2 p.m. The winner of the annual game with be the proud owner of the Big Bear trophy for the rest of the year. The game, which will also recognize the Spartans' six seniors - Kevin Cope, Wesley Curtis, Bryce Dobbins, Cody Henderson, Brent McIntosh and Ryan Thelen - will be streamed live on the Big Ten Digital Network Spartan All-Access (paid subscription necessary).
In the Rankings
Michigan State is also ranked 16th in the SoccerTimes.com poll and by College Sports Madness, No. 18 in the official NSCAA poll and by TopDrawerSoccer.com and is also 24th in the College Soccer News poll. Regionally, the Spartans are seventh in the NSCAA Great Lakes poll.
Currently, the Spartans (2-2-1) are fourth in the Big Ten standings. MSU leads the Big Ten in assists per game (2.19) and is tied for first for fewest goals allowed (14) and total assists (35). The Spartans are second in goals against average (0.81), total shots (264), total points (87) and total saves (85). MSU is No. 3 in shutouts (8) and fourth in both total goals (26) and goals per game (1.62).
In the NCAA standings released on Nov. 3, MSU had the fourth-best save percentage (.870) in the nation. They are also fourth in assists per game (2.33) and tied for 10th in shutout percentage (.53). The Spartans are at No. 16 in points per game (5.80), are 19th with 5.33 saves per game and rank No. 22 in goals against average (0.74) and total points (87).
Last Time Out
Harrison Shipp eventually put Notre Dame on the board as he sent in a strike from 18-yards out, assisted by Robby Gallegos, that was put off the right post into the net in the 59th-minute. A mere 36-seconds later, Vince Cicciarelli added a second ND goal, off an assist from Leon Brown and Patrick Hodan, that beat Bennett inside the right post. MSU showed solid ball movement through out the game to create opportunities, but the Notre Dame defense to keep any attempts off the scoreboard.
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 11 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 four of the Spartan's eight 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."
In addition to earning an assist, he sent a goal into the net to give the Spartans a 3-2 double-overtime win at defending NCAA Champions Indiana.
The eighth goal Kreutz has scored this season, 10th of his career, solidified a 3-2 victory for the Spartans and their third-straight win over the Hoosiers. He is No. 2 in the conference with his eight-goal total on the season, and is also ranked second with 0.53 goals per game. With his additional four assists, Kreutz has the second-most points in the conference with 20.
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 third 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 tied for first in the Big Ten with eight shutouts. He sits at No. 2 with a .856 Sv% and is also second in saves (85) and saves per game (5.19 avg.) and is third in shutouts per game (0.50).He is also fourth with a 0.81 goals against average. In the NCAA standings released Nov. 3, the sophomore is also No. 7 in the nation in save percentage and is 28th in the country in goals against average.
Another Brick In The Wall
The Battle For Big Bear
U-of-M has yet to defeat the Spartans on back-to-back occasions. The Spartans lead the series with an all-time record of 29-6-6 over Michigan. The match holds added pressure as the outcome will have direct implications on the upcoming Big Ten Tournament seeding.
The Wolverines, who are 8-5-3 on the season, are hitting the road after going 4-1 in a five-game home stretch including 1-0 wins over then-12th-ranked Creighton on Oct. 15 and most recently Valparaiso on Tuesday.
In his second season at the helm of Michigan, Chaka Daley owns a 19-15-4 record and returns a total of eight starters from the 2012 squad that made it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament and finished with a 11-10-1 record. The Wolverines are led by James Murphy (4-2-10), TJ VanSlooten (4-1-9) and Tyler Arnone (2-5-9). In goal, Adam Grinwis owns a 1.17 GAA with a .759 Sv%, playing all but one of U-of-M's games this season.
Big Ten Tournament Seeding
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.
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
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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