Soccer Prepares For Big Ten Tournament
Nov. 10, 2010
PLEASE NOTE: Due to severe travel delays encountered by Wisconsin, game times for the first-round contests of the Big Ten Men¹s Soccer Tournament on Thurs., Nov. 11 have been pushed back two hours. This is a change implemented late Wednesday evening.
First round revised schedule:
The semifinals and finals of the 2010 Big Ten Tournament will air live on the Big Ten Network.
Michigan State head coach Damon Rensing is in his second season as head coach after serving as an assistant coach for 10 seasons at his alma mater. During his 11 years at Michigan State, Rensing has helped lead the Spartans to 2004 and 2008 Big Ten Tournament championships as well as the 2008 conference regular-season crown.
Rensing's assistants are Kylie Stannard (Creighton `01), former Spartan head coach Joe Baum (who led the Spartans for 32 seasons before announcing his retirement as the head coach) and Bill Boyle, who played collegiately at Hartwick.
For the fifth consecutive season and 10th time in the past 11 seasons, the Spartans have won 11 games or more. Since the inception of the Big Ten tournament, In four of the last five seasons, MSU has won 11 regular-season contests, one shy of the 12 the 1996 team compiled.
The most recent Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) was released on Monday (Nov. 8). The RPI is the major tool used by the NCAA men's soccer committee to select the field of 48 which qualifies for the NCAA Tournament; the RPI takes into account not only wins and losses by a team, but also its strength of schedule. Michigan State ranks 12th overall in RPI, the second-highest in the Big Ten, behind Conference regular-season champion Indiana (No. 8).
MSU was ranked as high as fifth in the RPI this season, which occured in the first week that the rankings were released.
Nine of Michigan State's 18 opponents this season appear in the top 26 of the most recent RPI rankings. Of those teams, five of MSU's nine non-conference opponents appear in that top 26, including three in the top 10.
MSU played No. 2 Akron (L, 0-1), No. 4 Maryland (W, 4-3 (OT), No. 7 Notre Dame (W, 2-0), No. 8 Indiana (L, 0-3), No.13 Penn State (L, 1-2), No. 14 Ohio State (L, 1-2), No. 15 Georgetown (L, 0-4), No. 23 Providence (W, 4-0) and No. 26 Michigan (L, 2-3 in OT).
All six of MSU's losses are to teams in the top 26 of the most recent RPI, four of those losses came on the road, and four were by a one-goal margin.
In addition to nine RPI top-26 teams on MSU's regular-season schedule this season, the Spartans played stiff compettion in its pre-season tuneups. The Spartans downed Duke (No. 18) in a 1-0 game at the National Soccer Festival, as well as playing Bradley (currently 9-8-2) in its first exhibition contest.
The members of the Big Ten went a combined 64-46-13 (.573) during the regular-season, with four sides - Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, and the Spartans - each winning at least 10 games.
MSU's non-conference opponents combined for an overall record of 113-72-31 (.594). Only two finished below .500 in their conference's play, and only four were under .500 ocerall. Five won 10 or more games, including 16-victory Akron and 14-win Maryland.
The current Spartan senior class is positioning itself to make history. If the Spartans receive a bid to the NCAA Tournament, the Class of 2011 will be the first in Michigan State history to qualify for the NCAA Tournament in each of their four playing seasons.
Michigan State has won a pair of Big Ten Tournament titles (2004, 2008), and have won at least one game in the Tournament in each of the last three seasons.
The Spartans have appeared in the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament 12 times since the creation of the event in 1991.
The Spartans will face off with archrival Michigan in the first round of the Tournament. The teams have only met twice in this post-season affair; the first time was in 2002 in State College, with the Wolverines posting a 1-0 victory in the semifinals. In 2005, these teams met in the first round, and the 1-0 decision went to the Spartans.
Michigan State leads the all-time series against its archrival by a 25-4-5 margin.
Michigan dealt the Spartans a 3-2 overtime loss earlier this season. The Spartans rallied from a 2-0 deficit with a pair of late second-half goals by Domenic Barone. Barone, who missed a penalty shot in the first half, put MSU on the scoreboard in the 68th and 84th minutes, pushing the game to overtime.
The game-winner came in the 98th minute of play when Harmoody Saad's volley from 50 yards out gave the Wolverines the golden goal. It was the first time in series history that the Wolverines were able to defeat Michigan State on their home turf in Ann Arbor.
The Spartans enter the Big Ten Tournament with an overall record of 11-6-1, 2-4-0 in conference play.
With the lone goal against Milwaukee, Rosendall is now tied with Domenic Barone with a team-best eight goals. Rubin Bega has tallied four, putting him in third place. Spencer Thompson is leading the team in assists, (8) while Cyrus Saydee and Mark Barone round out the top three in that category with six and five assists, repectively. After four saves versus Milwaukee, Avery Steinlage now boasts a GAA of 1.19 and a save percentage of .794.
Michigan finished its regular season with a 4-2 win over Northwestern and enters the conference tournament 4-2-0 in the Big Ten and 11-4-3 on the season. Soony Saad is dominating the Wolverine offense with 15 goals and four assists this season. Justin Meram is next-best on the squad; he has scored nine times and has tallied eight helpers. In 18 games played, Chris Blais owns a GAA of 1.39 and a .750 save percentage.
Through its first 14 games of the season, MSU tallied 33 goals - 2.36 per contest, and were ranked ninth in the country in team offense. In the last four games of the Spartan season, MSU put up just four goals - 0.75 per game. Of the three times the Spartans were shut out this season, two came in the final three weeks - but those results were against Akron and Indiana, both top-ranked sides. MSU is now 17th nationally, averaging 2.0 goals per game.
The Spartans scored 28 goals in the 2009 season, and have put 36 on the board through 18 regular-season games this year. As much as an improvement as it was, it's still a long way from the school-record 77 scored by the Spartans in 1968.
MSU's 36 goals ties for the most since 2004, when the Spartans put up 38. The 2008 team, which captured the Big Ten regular-season and Tournament titles, also netted 36.
Part of Michigan State's recent struggles is due to several key players missing from the lineup. Head Coach Damon Rensing lost three back-line players in the first 30 minutes of the game against eventual Big Ten champion Indiana (Oct. 24), a contest the Spartans started without senior co-captain Jeff Ricondo. Ricondo has missed the last five games with injury, but could return for the Big Ten Tournament. Sophomore center back Kevin Cope was one of the players lost in the early part of the Indiana game; he tried to go but lasted just 10 minutes in the next game against Michigan (Oct. 30), and did not play against either Akron or Milwaukee.
Senior midfielder Nosa Iyoha returned to the lineup against Milwaukee after missing six games, and senior fullback Jake Fullerton will be available to Rensing after missing the Akron and Milwaukee tilts.
In all, Rensing's preferred starting 11 has missed 22 complete games this season.
MSU had two of the first three Offensive Player of the Week awards in the Big Ten this season. Spencer Thompson earned the honor on Sept. 13, and Cyrus Saydee shared the award on Sept. 20. Avery Steinlage was picked as the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week on Sept. 20, giving MSU a near-sweep of the weekly awards. Saydee shared his weekly honor with senior Matheus Braga of Penn State.
Michigan State's game at No. 6 Maryland to open the season was an instant classic - the two teams combined for three goals in a 28-second span within the final 90 seconds of regulation. Domenic Barone had the game-winner in the 96th minute for the MSU victory.
Michigan State's last game of the regular season ended in a 1-1 deadlock at Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Saturday (Nov. 6). Brent Rosendall had the only Spartan goal of the day off of a free kick after a UWM yellow card. Mark Barone launched the restart to the far post, where Rosendall buried it from eight yards out. The equalizing goal for the Panthers' came late in the matchup, with only 2:01 left in regulation. Neither team could find the back of the net in extra time, resulting in MSU's first tie of the season.
As Michigan State enters the Big Ten Tournament this week, they continue to sit in the top three in the conference in nearly every statistical ranking. The Spartans rank second in goals (36), goals per game (2.00), and shutouts (7), and are third in points (105), assists (33), assists per game (1.83), GAA (1.20), and saves (83).
Individually, six Spartans are finding their names among conference leaders in the Big Ten statistical rankings. Domenic Barone is fifth in the conference in points per game (1.36), and goals per game (.57), is tied with Brent Rosendall for sixth in goals, with eight. The junior is also seventh in points (19) and eighth for shots per game (2.50). Along with being tied with Barone for sixth in goals (8), Rosendall is also eighth in points (18) and points per game (1.00). Owning eight assists, Spencer Thompson is tied for second on that list and is now third in assists per game (.44). Meanwhile, Cyrus Saydee is sixth in the conference in assists (6) and ninth for assists per game (.33) and Rubin Bega is tied for ninth in the Big Ten in shots (40). On the defense, Avery Steinlage is number one in saves, with 81 stopped and is tied for second-best in shutouts, with four. The senior is also third for save percentage (.794) and saves per game (4.50), and is fifth in shutouts per game (.22) and GAA (1.19).
In the most recent NCAA statistical rankings, Michigan State is ranked 12th in total goals with 36 scored so far this season. The Spartans are also 17th in the country in scoring offense with an average of 2.0 goals per game. Dominic Barone is sitting at 24th nationally in goals per game (.57) and Spencer Thompson is ranked 19th in total assists with eight helpers this year.
MSU has allowed just five first-half goals this season of the 22 overall. The Spartan scoring is a little more even, netting 15 in the first half and 20 in the second.
Senior keeper Avery Steinlage is chiseling his name in the all-time career records at Michigan State. Entering Thursday's game, his career save percentage is .859, which would place him second in the career recordbook, and his 0.78 GAA would be fifth. He owns 33 career wins (tied for third with TJ Lieckfelt) and 20 shutouts (tied with Reid Friedrichs) for second in the MSU record book.
Steinlage's 11 victories this season is one shy of his career-best 12, set as a sophomore in 2008. Steinlage's 33 career victories is three shy of the all-time MSU record of 36, held by Reid Friedrichs, who went 36-18-6 from 1993-96.
Spencer Thompson and Jeff Ricondo, the Spartan captains, set an example by generating their best statistical seasons. Ricondo had a 3-4-10 scoring line, better than half his career-best 17 points, before being sidelined since mid-October with injury. In fact, had put points on the board in five of six games before getting injured in the Oct. 17 game against Wisconsin. In that span, he had two goals and three assists. Despite missing the last five games, he is still MSU's active leading career scorer with 12 goals and 15 assists for 39 points.
Thompson is enjoying the best statistical season of his career, with a team-best eight assists and a career-high three goals. He had a career-best five-point game against Providence (two goals, one assist). Thompson is one away from joining the all-time MSU top ten in single-season assists, and is currently tied for seventh place in career helpers (20).
MSU has three freshmen who have played significant minutes and roles on this season's Spartan team. Josh Barens earned a starting role on the back line, making 17 starts in 18 games. Versatile speedster Wesley Curtis has appeared in 16 games, and drew a starting nod in 11. Tim Kreutz is the top-scoring freshman with a goal and a pair of assists, and he has played in 16 games, getting one start.
Domenic Barone has taken both penalty kick chances for the Spartans this season. He buried his first chance, coming in the opener at Maryland - a 4-3 overtime thriller. He was stopped on the second attempt, at Michigan - but fought back to net two second-half tallies.
Domenic Barone leads the team overall in scoring (8g, 3 a), and has a 3-1-7 scoring line in Big Ten games - netting a third of MSU's scores in Conference contests. No other player had more than one goal in Big Ten games.
Junior transfer Brent Rosendall has made an impression in his first season in Green & White. The Grand Rapids, Mich. native spent his first two seasons at Louisville, and joined the Spartans this fall. He is MSU's second-leading point scorer (19), tied with Domenic Barone for the team lead in goals (8).
Junior Cyrus Saydee is second on the team in assists, behind senior Spencer Thompson. Saydee entered his junior season with five career helpers, and has six this year.
Senior fullback Jake Fullerton scored his first career goal at home against Providence on Sept. 9. He doubled his career total with a goal at home against Wisconsin (Oct. 17).
Sophomore center back Kevin Cope scored his first career goal on Sept. 22 at Duquesne, a tally which stood as the game-winner. His first goal came in his 28th game in Green and White. Cope is a second-year starter.
Senior center back Colin Givens, a returning All-Big Ten and Second Team All-Great Lakes Region performer, is one of the top defenders in the Big Ten, and along with sophomore Kevin Cope, forms one of the top defensive tandems in the Conference. Givens, along with classmate Spencer Thompson, trained with FC Toronto last summer in preparation of their then-impending senior seasons.
Senior co-captain Jeff Ricondo had put points on the board in five of six games before getting injured in the Oct. 17 game against Wisconsin. In that span, he had two goals and three assists.
Ricondo was selected as a CoSIDA First Team Academic All-Region selection. The senior is a marketing major with a 3.69 cumulative grade-point average. He has advanced to the national ballot
Michigan State was picked fifth in the Big Ten preseason poll of Conference coaches. Ohio State was selected as the conference favorite, followed by Indiana at No. 2 and Northwestern and Penn State tied for third place in the survey. Michigan and Wisconsin were picked sixth and seventh, respectively.
The Big Ten announced its "Players to Watch" list on Aug. 28. MSU's Players to Watch were Hermann Trophy Watch List candidate Avery Steinlage, along with senior classmates Spencer Thompson and Colin Givens.
Goalkeeper Avery Steinlage was named to the Missouri Athletic Club's Hermann Trophy Watch List for the 2010 season. Considered the highest individual honor in intercollegiate soccer, the recipients of the MAC's Hermann Trophy are selected by Division I head coaches who are current members of the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA).
The Watch Lists - 39 men and 45 women's players from around the United States - is released in advance of the season. A list of 15 semifinalists is selected by a coaches committee in November, with three finalists announced in early December.
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