Men's Soccer To Face Tulsa In NCAA Tournament
Nov. 15, 2004
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State men's soccer team (12-6-1) will face Tulsa (10-6-3) in the first round of the 2004 NCAA Tournament on Friday, Nov. 19, in Tulsa, Okla. MSU earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament by capturing its first Big Ten Tournament title in school history. If the Spartans win, they will face Penn State (10-4-7) in the second round on Tuesday, Nov. 23.
The Spartans are making their 10th appearance in the NCAA Tournament in school history. From 1962-69, MSU made eight straight trips to the tournament, capturing co-championships in 1967 and 1968. Michigan State's most recent appearance came in 2001, as the Spartans defeated Butler, 2-1, in the first round before falling to Indiana, 1-0.
Michigan State head coach Joe Baum will be making his second trip to the NCAA Tournament in his 28 seasons as head coach. Baum, however, did appear in three NCAA Tournaments as a player at MSU from 1966-68. He was in goal for MSU's co-championships in 1967 and 1968.
"Going to Tulsa will be fun for the team since we've never played in Oklahoma," said Baum. "It will be fun to get on the road and experience a new part of the country. We're just real excited to be in the NCAA Tournament.
"The Big Ten Conference this year was very competitive. About 85 percent of the games were decided by only one goal. Those games really get you ready for tough competition as you can't relax when you have a one-goal lead. Playing those games helped us prepare for the NCAA Tournament."
The Big Ten Conference led all conferences as six of its seven teams earned a spot in the field of 48 teams. No. 2-seed Indiana and No. 10-seed Penn State earned first-round byes, while Michigan, Northwestern and Ohio State join Michigan State in playing first-round games.
"The last couple of years we left the selection show pretty disappointed and we knew that the only way not to be disappointed this year was to win the Big Ten Tournament," said senior forward John Minagawa-Webster (Monroe, Mich.). "There were a lot of good teams in the Big Ten and six of them made it. There was a time when I didn't think we would be in this position, but we worked hard all year and we feel we deserve it."
Tulsa earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament as an at-large team. The Golden Hurricane lost to No. 3 Southern Methodist, 2-1, in the finals of the Missouri Valley Conference tournament.
Last weekend, MSU earned the automatic bid with its performance at the Big Ten Tournament. In the quarterfinals, the Spartans defeated Wisconsin, 1-0.
In the semifinals, Michigan State defeated Indiana, 2-1, marking the Spartans' first win over the Hoosiers since 1965. In that game, Indiana native and junior midfielder Ryan McMahen (Munster, Ind.) scored both MSU goals.
On Sunday, senior forward Jordan Gruber (Beverly Hills, Mich.) scored a second half goal to lift the Spartans to a 1-0 victory over Northwestern. McMahen was named Offensive Player of the Championship, while sophomore goalkeeper Jason Tillman (Brighton, Mich.) was named Defensive Player of the Championship after allowing just one goal in three games over the weekend.
"It was so exciting seeing our team on the screen (during the selection show)," said Tillman. "We feel like we got a really solid pick. I don't know too much about Tulsa yet, but I am looking forward to playing in the first round."
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