ATTN: Game time moved to 11 a.m. due to weather forecast. Tape delay to air on Big Ten Network at 2 p.m.
Nov. 16, 2013
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The No. 20 Michigan State men's soccer team (12-4-3, 3-2-1) advanced to its second-straight Big Ten Tournament Championship game to face fifth-seeded Indiana (7-11-12, 2-4-0) on Sunday, Nov. 17 at 11 a.m. in Columbus, Ohio. The game will be broadcast on tape delay on the Big Ten Network at 2 p.m.
Spartans In the Big Ten Tournament
After blanking Northwestern 1-0 on Friday, the Spartans advanced to their second-straight Big Ten Tournament Championship, sixth overall in program history. Third-seeded Michigan State enters the tournament as the defending champions after defeating the Wolverines in overtime last season to earn the third Big Ten Tournament Championship in program history (2004 and 2008).
MSU owns an all-time tournament record of 19-19-2, including 12-9-1 in the first round, 5-8-1 in the semifinals and 3-2-0. The team is 3-3 when the tournament is held in Columbus and 5-3 when seeded third. When playing Indiana in the tournament championship game, the Spartans own a 0-2 record.
Hunkering Down on the Hoosiers
The Spartans hold an all-time record of 14-35-4 over Indiana, with the most recent meeting between the two teams resulting in 3-2 double-overtime win for MSU on Nov. 1 in Bloomington, Ind. In its sixth double-overtime game and final road match of the season, MSU edged defending NCAA champion Indiana led by Tim Kreutz's third game-winning goal of the season to earn the Spartans' third-straight win over the Hoosiers.
In his third season at the helm of the Hoosiers, Todd Yeagley owns a 46-28-11 record and returns a total of 19 letterwinners from the 2012 NCAA National Championship squad that finished 16-5-3 overall with a 3-2-1 conference record. Indiana is led by Nikita Kotilov (5-3-13), A.J. Corrado (3-7-13) and Tommy Thompson (5-2-12). In goal, Colin Webb owns a 1.35 GAA with a .769 Sv%, playing in the last three of the Hoosiers' games this season.
Last Time Out
In the semifinal of the Big Ten Tournament, Michigan State defeated Northwestern, 1-0 on Friday afternoon to earn its third-straight and 11th overall shutout of the season.
In the 24th minute, Fatai Alashe stole the ball from Northwestern's standout Joey Calistri nearly 40-yards out, took two dribbles and from 25 yards out shot it into the right side of the goal. He gave MSU a 1-0 lead with his fourth goal scored this season, sixth of his career. It marked Michigan State's first goal in the first half since Alashe sent in the initial goal in the Spartans win at Indiana on Nov. 1.
The Spartan backline continued to clear out forward pressure from Northwestern as Kevin Cope and Ryan Keener kept the Wildcat chances out of the box. In goal, Zach Bennett recorded four saves on the day to improve his GAA to 0.69 with a .876 Sv%. With the help of the Spartan backline, he recorded his 11th shutout of the season, 14th of his career. It marks the most shutouts in a single season since 2008.
In the Rankings
In the NCAA men's soccer RPI rankings released on Nov. 11, Michigan State improved to No. 11 in the nation. The Spartans remain the second highest-ranked Big Ten team in the RPI rankings. The RPI, or rating percentage index, weights three factors including a team's Division I winning percentage, opponent strength of schedule and opponent's opponent strength of schedule.
Michigan State is also ranked No. 16 by TopDrawerSoccer.com and in the SoccerTimes.com poll, 17th by College Sports Madness, No. 20 in the official NSCAA poll, and is also 22nd in the College Soccer News poll. Regionally, the Spartans are seventh in the NSCAA Great Lakes poll.
The Spartans (3-2-1) finished third in the Big Ten standings. MSU leads the Big Ten in fewest goals allowed (14), goals against average (0.69), total shots (302), total assists (39) and assists per game (2.05) and leads the conference with 11 shutouts. The Spartans are second in total shots (309), total points (101) and total saves (101). MSU is No. 3 in total goals (31) and goals per game (1.67).
In the NCAA standings released on Nov. 14, MSU has the third-best save percentage (.874) in the nation. They are also tied for No. 5 in assists per game (2.17), tied for sixth in shutout percentage (.56) and tied for seventh in total assists (39). The Spartans are 20th with 5.39 saves per game, No. 22 in points per game (5.50) and tied for 22nd in total points (99).
At The Helm
Head Coach Damon Rensing is in his fifth season as head coach, but embarks on his 15th on the Spartan sideline after a standout career for the Spartans (1993-96). Rensing is 55-37-12 (.529) in his five seasons as head coach, but MSU boasts a 134-77-24 (.621) overall record with Rensing on the sidelines, including 11 or more wins in nine seasons.
Kylie Stannard and Ben Pirmann serve as the Spartan assistants. Pirmann is also a former Spartan letterwinner, and previously served the program as the volunteer assistant before returning to his alma mater after a coaching stint at Western Michigan. Stannard is a graduate of Creighton, which reached the Elite Eight twice in his career and the semifinals once. Prior to coming to MSU, he was an assistant coach at Northern Illinois. Stannard and Pirmann have both served as the head coach of Detroit City FC, which plays in the National Premier Soccer League. Stannard made his debut in 2012, while Pirmann coached the team in 2013. Former MSU keeper Jeremy Clark, who played for MSU 2008-11, is now in his second season as the team's volunteer coach.
Due to an inclement weather forecast, the game time has been moved up to 11 a.m. The Big Ten Tournament Championship game against the Hoosiers will be broadcast the game on tape delay on the Big Ten Network at 2 p.m. Follow along with the game through live stats available through Gametracker at MSUSpartans.com and follow @MSUMSoccer on twitter for play-by-play updates during the game.
The NCAA selection show to determine the Spartans fate will be held on Monday, Nov. 18. The first round of the NCAA tournament will be held on campus sites on Nov. 21.