No. 1 Seed Men's Soccer Will Play In Big Ten Semifinals on Friday
Nov. 12, 2008
EAST LANSING, Mich. -
The No. 1 seed Michigan State men's soccer team will take on either fourth seeded Northwestern or No. 5 seed Penn State at 12 p.m. ET on Friday (Nov. 14) in the semifinals of the Big Ten Championship. By winning the Big Ten regular season championship, the Spartans (11-5-1) earned a first-round bye. The tournament is being hosted by the University of Wisconsin.
The Spartans' semifinal game will be broadcast live on the Big Ten Network. Sunday's title game at 1 p.m. ET will also be shown live.
The Opener: The No. 1-seed Spartans will take on either Penn State or Northwestern on Friday at 12 p.m. EST in the Big Ten Championship semifinals. The Spartans defeated Penn State, 4-3, earlier this season in State College, Pa., and downed Northwestern, 1-0, in East Lansing.
MSU is 8-15-2 all-time against PSU and 25-4-2 against Northwestern. In the last Big Ten Championship meeting between the Spartans and Nittany Lions last season, the teams tied but MSU advanced on penalty kicks (5-4). MSU defeated Northwestern, 1-0, in 2004 in their last Big Ten Tourney meeting.
Regular Season Champs: For the first time in program history, the Spartans won the Big Ten regular-season championship. MSU's 5-1 record in Big Ten play was its best mark ever. The previous best was in 2000 when it went 4-1-1 in the league.
The Spartans defeated Northwestern, 1-0, on Nov. 2 to clinch the title.
Streaking: The Spartans are undefeated in their last seven matches at 6-0-1 and are 8-1-1 in their last 10. They have out-scored their opponents by a count of 18-7 over the 10-game stretch and haven't surrendered a goal since allowing a penalty kick Oct. 15 against UIC. In fact, MSU's defense hasn't allowed a goal in the flow of play since Oct. 8 vs. Notre Dame.
In the Polls: The Spartans are currently No. 16 in the NSCAA/adidas Top-25 poll (Nov. 11) and No. 13 in the CollegeSoccerNews.com poll (Nov. 10).
DeMartin Dominates: Senior Doug DeMartin continues to lead the Big Ten this season in points (33) and goals (15). He now has 36 career goals and ranks in fifth place on MSU's all-time goals list. His 81 career points rank sixth on MSU's all-time list. The Mason native's 15 goals this season are the most by a Spartan since Tom King scored 15 in 1982.
Big Wins: MSU picked up three wins against ranked opponents this season (No. 14 UIC, No. 18 and No. 6 Northwestern). 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 4-2 against the five teams they have played that are currently ranked in the NSCAA/adidas Top-25 Poll.
The Spartans have faced six ranked opponents entering this weekend.
Eight of the opponents on the Spartans' schedule this season participated in last year's NCAA Tournament.
Slamming the Door: Entering Friday's game, sophomore goalkeeper Avery Steinlage had not allowed a goal in 515:03 of action - a span that stretches over five games. The only goal he surrendered in the last six matches was a penalty kick vs. UIC. Steinlage ranks first in the conference in saves (82), save percentage (.911) and saves per game (5.86).
Since taking over in goal, he has posted seven shutouts in 13 games and has led MSU to a 10-2-1 record.
Players of the Week: Three Spartans have earned Big Ten Player of the Week accolades this season. Doug DeMartin took home Offensive Player of the Week honors Sept. 29 and Oct. 20 and Louis Stephens garnered the award Nov. 2 after scoring the game-winning goal in MSU's win over Northwestern. Sophomore goalkeeper Avery Steinlage was twice named conference Defensive Player of the week.
Another Solid Year: MSU has now recorded at least 11 wins in eight of the last nine seasons. The most wins the Spartans had during this nine-year stretch was in 2001 when they won 13 and went to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Their 11 wins this season match the total from 2006 and 2007.
Set Up Men: Senior Zac Scaffidi and sophomore Spencer Thompson are tied for second in the conference in assists with six each. Scaffidi has doubled his career assists total, as he entered the 2008 season with a total of six.
National Recognition: Avery Steinlage earned NSCAA National Player of the Week honors Oct. 22 for his efforts in back-to-back wins over No. 14 UIC and No. 18 Michigan. He was just one of two players from the Big Ten to garner the award this season. Since Steinlage took over as the starter in goal, MSU is 10-2-1.
The Offense: The Spartans have scored 34 goals this season, their most since 2004 when they scored 38. Since 2000, the Spartans have scored at least 30 goals in six out of nine years. In addition to Doug DeMartin (15 goals), 11 different Spartans have scored this year.
MSU In The Big Ten Championship: The Spartans are 12-16 in the Big Ten Tournament since it began in 1991. Last season, as hosts, the fifth-seeded Spartans got past Penn State in penalty kicks (5-4) and then fell to No. 1 seed Indiana, 1-0, in the semifinals.
MSU's only Big Ten Tournament title came in 2004 as a No. 5 seed when it downed Wisconsin (1-0), Indiana (2-1) and Northwestern (1-0).
Firsts: Senior defender David Hertel scored his first-career goal on Oct. 15 in a 3-1 win over UIC. Hertel joins freshmen Cyrus Saydee, Rubin Bega and Domenic Barone who have also all recorded their first-career goals this season.
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