Nov. 15, 2010
East Lansing, Mich. - For the fourth consecutive season, the Michigan State men's soccer team has earned a bid to the NCAA Championship. The Spartans will play at home on Thursday, Nov. 18, hosting Oakland University. Gametime will be 1 p.m. at DeMartin Stadium.
"There are more than 200 teams that start each season with a goal to be among the 48, and even fewer get to host," said head coach Damon Rensing, who has guided the Spartans to 22 victories and back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances in his two seasons as the Michigan State head coach. "This is a strong NCAA field, and we've played a number of the teams in the Tournament. We're proud to represent MSU and a very strong Big Ten, and we look forward to getting things going on Thursday."
The winner of Thursday's game will advance to Sunday's second-round contest at Butler. The Horizon League champions are the Tournament's overall No. 13 seed, with a 16-0-3 overall record.
The Spartans finished the 2010 regular season with a 11-7-1 overall record. MSU has been led by seven seniors, who become the first class in Michigan State history to earn an NCAA Tournament bid in each of the four years of their playing careers. Oakland earned its automatic bid to the 2010 field by winning the Summit League Championship with a 2-0 win over Oral Roberts. Oakland comes into Thursday's game with a 7-10-3 overall record.
"Our seniors are a special group, and many of them have been regular contributors since their freshman year," noted Rensing. "Them becoming the first class in program history is a testament to their consistency. We're very proud of them; they have represented our program and Michigan State University well. Now we try to keep their collegiate careers going for a little longer."
MSU and Oakland will meet for the second time in NCAA Tournament play. The last game between the schools was played in 2007, with the Grizzlies earning a 2-1 victory. MSU played most of the second half down a man after a red card. Doug DeMartin had MSU's lone goal, coming on a 79th-minute penalty kick.
Playing one of the tougher schedules in the country, Michigan State went 11-7-1 this season. The Spartans have won at least 11 games for the fifth straight year and 10th time in 11 seasons. Michigan State was ranked 12th overall in the latest (Nov. 8) RPI, the second-highest in the Big Ten, behind Conference regular-season champion Indiana (No. 8).
Nine of MSU'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, L, 1-2).
Michigan State is making its 14th NCAA Championship appearance and sixth since 2001. MSU is 17-10-4 all-time in the NCAA Tournament and is hosting an NCAA game for the fourth consecutive year.
The Spartans joined Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan, and Indiana as the other Big Ten schools that received bids to the NCAA Championship. It marked the third straight year the conference had five schools earn NCAA bids.
Tickets for Sunday's game will be available through the MSU ticket office at 517.355.1610.