Men's Soccer Looks To Capture First Ever Big Ten Tournament Title
Nov. 13, 2004
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State men's soccer team (11-6-1) will play Northwestern (14-4-2) in the championship game of the Big Ten Men's Soccer Tournament at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 14 in Ann Arbor, Mich. With a win, Michigan State would capture its first ever Big Ten Tournament title in men's soccer and advance to the NCAA Tournament for the 10th time in school history and the first since 2001. The championship game will be broadcast nationally by CSTV on tape-delay at 9 p.m. EST Monday, Nov. 15.
Big Ten Tournament Recap - Michigan State entered the 2004 Big Ten Tournament as the No. 5 seed, having posted a 2-4 record during the conference season. In the quarterfinals, the Spartans faced a No. 4 Wisconsin squad that had defeated MSU, 2-1, less than two weeks earlier in East Lansing. This time, MSU struck first with a Steve Doster goal in the 23rd minute, and held on for a 1-0 win. It marked MSU's first shutout in the Big Ten Tournament since a 6-0 win over Northwestern in 2000. In the semifinals, MSU faced an Indiana squad it had not defeated since 1965. Once again, the Spartans drew first blood, as Ryan McMahen's free kick from approximately 30 yards out hit the cross bar and bounced into the goal. IU answered with a goal in the 32nd minute, sending the teams into halftime tied at 1. The game-winner came in the 70th minute as Gruber found McMahen all alone in the box. McMahen struck the bouncing ball out of the air and past first-team All-Big Ten goalkeeper Jay Nolly to put MSU ahead, 2-1. On the other end, MSU goalkeeper Jason Tillman made five saves to preserve the one goal lead.
MSU In Big Ten Tournament Play - Entering Sunday's game, MSU is 8-13-1 in Big Ten Tournament action. The Spartans are making just their third appearance in the tournament finals. In 1996, MSU advanced to the championship game by defeating Wisconsin, 5-3, in penalty kicks, before falling to Indiana, 4-0. In 2001, MSU defeated Ohio State and Penn State by identical 2-1 scores to advance to the championship game, losing to Indiana, 2-0.
Spartans Hope To Earn NCAA Bid - Michigan State hopes to win the Big Ten Tournament and earn the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Spartans have made nine appearances in the NCAA Tournament, including eight straight trips from 1962-69. MSU's only other appearance came in 2001, as the Spartans defeated Butler, 2-1, in the first round, before falling to Indiana, 1-0. In 1967 and 1968, MSU was named NCAA co-Champion.
MSU vs. Northwestern - Michigan State leads the all-time series with Northwestern, 22-2-2. The series, however, has been much closer in recent years. The Spartans have won three of the last four meetings (2001, 2002, 2004) by identical 1-0 scores. In 2003, the two teams battled to a 1-1 draw in Evanston. MSU and NU have met twice in the Big Ten Tournament, with the Spartans winning both games. In 1997, MSU won 2-0, and in 2000, the Spartans cruised to a 6-0 victory, establishing a Big Ten Tournament record for most goals in a game.
Spartans Shut-out Wildcats In Regular Season - Michigan State and Northwestern hooked up in East Lansing on Oct. 3. Spartan midfielder Ryan McMahen scored in the 17th minute, off an assist from Matt Kreikemeier. As it turned out, that was all the scoring that was needed, as MSU goalkeeper Jason Tillman recorded two saves to earn the shutout. For the game, the Spartans out-shot the Wildcats, 16-8, and held a 9-5 advantage in corner kicks.
The Big Three - Michigan State's offense must look like a three-headed monster to opponents. Senior forwards Jordan Gruber and John Minagawa-Webster and junior midfielder Ryan McMahen have combined to score 26 of MSU's 36 goals (72.2 percent), 26 of MSU's 44 assists (59.1 percent) and 78 of MSU's 116 points (67.2 percent). Gruber leads the squad in goals (10) and points (28), while ranking third in assists (8). Minagawa-Webster is second on the team in goals (9) and points (27), and is tied for the team lead with nine assists. McMahen shares the team lead in assists and ranks third in goals (7) and points (23).
Youth Movement - As the season has progressed, Michigan State has gone with a younger lineup. For Sunday's Big Ten Tournament final, three true freshmen (Ryan Dick, Ryan Gochneaur and Rauwshan McKenzie) are expected to be in the starting lineup. In addition, true freshmen Ben Pirmann and Kenzo Webster are two of the three reserves who usually see action. This season, MSU freshmen have made 22 starts.
Home Away From Home - Michigan State is very comfortable playing at the UM Soccer Field, where the Spartans are 5-0 all-time, including 3-0 in 2004. MSU is 3-0 in the regular season against Michigan in Ann Arbor, including a 3-2 overtime victory this season.
Michigan State Soccer Player Notes
#9 John Minagawa-Webster - Sr., Forward - Monroe, Mich. - Ranks second on the team in goals (9) and points (27) ... Tied for the team lead with nine assists ... One of the most dangerous forwards in the conference ... Frequent target on corner kicks ... Scored game winning goals against Dayton and San Diego State ... Has scored just three goals since scoring twice against San Diego State on Sept. 17 ... Had four-point games (1 goal, 2 asssits) vs. Bowling Green and Dayton.
#10 Jordan Gruber - Sr., Forward - Beverly Hills, Mich. - Leads the team in goals (10) and points (28) ... Third on the team with eight assists ... Assisted on the game-winning goal in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals ... Leads the team with five game-winning goals ... Scored the game-winning goal in a 3-2 overtime win at Michigan, while also adding an assist ... Scored two goals in the season opener at Bowling Green ... Recorded two goals and one assist against Valparaiso.
#5 Ryan McMahen - Jr., Midfielder - Munster, Ind. - First-team All-Big Ten ... Scored both of MSU's goals in 2-1 win over Indiana in Big Ten Tournament semifinals ... Assisted on MSU's only goal in a 1-0 win over Wisconsin in Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals ... Ranked third on the team in goals (7) and points (23) ... Tied for the team lead with nine assists ... Led MSU with three goals in Big Ten play, ranking fourth in the Big Ten ... Excellent scoring threat on free kicks ... Had three assists against Dayton on Sept. 12. ... Scored the game-winning goal against Northwestern on Oct. 3.
#6 Matt Kreikemeier - So., Midfielder - Chesterfield, Mo. - Tallied three assists, including one on the game-winning goal in a 1-0 win over Northwestern on Oct. 3 ... Scored his first career goal in the regular-season finale vs. Valparaiso ... Started all 18 games in the midfield.
#22 Steve Doster - Jr., Midfielder - Frankfort, Ill. - Scored MSU's only goal in a 1-0 win over Wisconsin in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals ... Started all 18 games ... Also scored goals this season vs. Western Illinois and Valparaiso.
#16 Ryan Dick - Fr., Midfielder - Rochester Hills, Mich. - Played in all 18 games, starting seven of the last eight ... Was MSU's first reserve off the bench in the first 10 games of the year ... Recorded an assist vs. Valparaiso.
#4 Kellen Kalso - Sr., Defense - Oxford, Mich. - Second-team All-Big Ten ... Started all 18 games this year and all 74 in his career.
#17 Rauwshan McKenzie - Fr., Defense - Hoffman Estates, Ill. - Big Ten All-Freshman Team ... Played in all 18 games, starting 11, including the last 10.
#18 Greg Janicki - So., Defense - New Baltimore, Mich. - Started all 18 games ... Has one assist on the season.
#7 Ryan Gochneaur - Fr., Defense - Medina, Mich. - Appeared in 15 games, starting the last four ... Recorded an assist against Wisconsin in the regular season.
#30 Jason Tillman - So., Goalkeeper - Brighton, Mich. - Played in all 18 games, starting 17 ... GAA of 1.08 ... Has a save percentage of .757 ... Recorded five saves in MSU's 2-1 win over Indiana in Big Ten Tournament semifinals ... Shut-out Wisconsin in Big Ten Tournament quarterfinal, making two saves ... Shut-out Northwestern, 1-0, on Oct. 3, making two saves ... Recorded four shutouts and combined for three more (seven total) ... Made a career-best 12 saves against San Diego on Sept. 19.
#14 John Kaczmarek - Jr., Midfielder - Plymouth, Mich. - Started 11 games in the midfield, but just one of the last eight... Scored his only two goals of the season against Dayton on Sept. 12.
#20 Kenzo Webster - Fr., Forward - Monroe, Mich. - MSU's first forward reserve off the bench ... Scored two goals this season, including MSU's only tally in a 2-1 loss to Wisconsin ... Younger brother of John Minagawa-Webster.
#12 Ben Pirmann - Fr., Midfielder - Lake Orion, Mich. - Played in 15 games as a reserve midfielder ... Has three assists this season.
at the official