Spartans Host Virginia Tech in NCAA Tournament
Michigan State returns to DeMartin on Sunday.
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Seventh-seeded Michigan State men’s soccer (11-3-3, 5-0-3 B1G) will host the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday, Nov. 19 at 1 p.m., taking on Virginia Tech (10-9-0, 3-5-0 ACC). The Hokies defeated Air Force 2-0 in the first round on Thursday.
NCAA Notes vs. VA Tech
This is the second-straight season that the Spartans have hosted a NCAA Tournament game. Last season in the first round, SIU Edwardsville advanced 9-8 on penalty kicks. The teams battles to a 1-1 tie in double overtime, before the Cougars edged the Spartans in the penalty kick round.
The last time that the Spartans were a seeded team playing at home was 2014 when MSU reached the Elite Eight. That season, MSU was the overall No. 3 seed.
BIG TIME, BIG TEN
Five Big Ten teams earned a bid into the NCAA Tournament, with Indiana earning the overall No. 2 seed, as the only undefeated team in the nation. Michigan returns to the tournament as the No. 13 seed, while Wisconsin and Maryland both also earn a berth. Maryland ended its season after Albany advanced, 0-0 in double overtime on Nov. 16. Wisconsin moved on to the second round with a 4-1 win over Illinois-Chicago. Indiana, Michigan State and Michigan will all play at home on Sunday.
MSU’s five B1G wins ties a school record for most conference wins, matching the 2008 squad. The Spartans 5-0-3 record is the first time that Michigan State has got unbeaten in Big Ten action, finishing with a 5-0-3 record.
SCOUTING REPORT: VIRGINIA TECH
The Hokies bring a 10-9-0 overall record into Sunday’s second-round match-up with the Spartans after beating Air Force, 2-0, Thursday night in the first round. Virginia Tech used two goals three minutes apart and withstood a late Air Force threat. Senior forward Marcelo Acuna slotted home the opening goal in the 54th minute off an assist from senior midfielder/defender Collin Verfurth. Less than three minutes later, Acuna netted a goal of his own, rebounding his own shot off the AFA keeper and putting the rebound in the back of the net for the 2-0 difference.
Virginia Tech was 3-5 in ACC action this season, finishing fifth in the Coastal Division. Four of the Hokies’ five ACC losses were to conference foes ranked in the Top 10, while the fifth was to a then-unranked Duke squad that is now No. 14. One of Virginia Tech’s league wins was a 2-1 victory over No. 1 Notre Dame. The Hokies also defeated No. 14 Creighton, 2-0, in the season-opener.
Acuna spearheads the Hokie offense, tallying 27 points this season off 12 goals and three assists, leading Virginia Tech in all three categories, on the way to earning First-Team All-ACC accolades. Senior goalkeeper Ben Lundgaard joined Acuna on the First-Team All-ACC list. Lundgaard posted his sixth shutout of the season and 23rd of his career with Thursday’s 2-0 win over Air Force and now has a 1.64 GAA.
MSU VS. THE ACC?
Sunday’s match-up with Virginia Tech will be Michigan State’s sixth different ACC opponent, as the Spartans are a combined 17-18-8 against current ACC teams:
ACC Opponent MSU Record
North Carolina, 1-0-1
Notre Dame, 7-16-6
Virginia Tech, 0-0-0
Sunday will be the first-ever meeting on the pitch between Michigan State and Virginia Tech.
MAKING YOUR MARK
Michigan State redshirt-junior goalkeeper Jimmy Hague has made quite an impact in his two season’s starting in net. Hague has a 0.73 goals against average during his career, which places him third all-time in MSU history behind Kevin O’Connell (0.47, 1966) and Hall of Famer Joe Baum (0.68, 1967-68). Hague is sixth in shutouts with 16. Zach Bennett (2012-15) is the all-time leader in shutouts at MSU with 35.
MSU head coach Damon Rensing reached a coaching milestone. With the win against Penn State on Oct. 14, the Spartan leader reached 100 career wins. Overall, he is now 101-61-25 at MSU.
Due in part to the amazing student section known as the Red Cedar Rowdies, Michigan State is an impressive 14-1-4 in its last 19 games at DeMartin Stadium. Last season, MSU set a school-record with most wins at home going 9-0-2. In 2017, the Spartans were 5-0-2 at home during the regular season. Michigan State suffered its first loss at home in the Big Ten Tournament against Ohio State on Nov. 5. The Spartans last loss at DeMartin was against Indiana on Nov. 4, 2015.
In this week’s RPI rankings, Michigan State are ranked 12th. The Spartans tough schedule included six-straight games. MSU is one of three teams B1G ranked in the top 15 along with fourth-ranked Indiana and No. 15-ranked Michigan. MSU opponents Akron, Western Michigan and Notre Dame are ranked No. 7, No. 9 and No. 10, respectively.
CENTALA AND FISCUS EARN ACADEMIC HONORS
Michigan State men’s soccer players Jimmy Fiscus and Brad Centala were named first-team Academic All-District Team. Both were recognized as a part of NCAA Division I District 5 by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).
This is the second-straight season that MSU has had a pair of players on the first-team all-district list. Last season, Centala and Andrew Herr were both honored. Both players went on to earn CoSIDA Academic All-American honors in 2016.
Fiscus, a native of Novi, Michigan, has earned a 3.85 GPA in supply chain management. This is the first Academic All-District honor for the senior defender. The senior is a two-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree.
Centala, a native of Grosse Pointe Woods, Michigan, earned his second-straight All-District honor with a 3.86 in kinesiology. He was also named to the first-team in 2016. Centala earned Academic All-Big Ten honors the last two seasons.
CLIMBING THE CHARTS
Coming down to the final game of the regular season, junior forward Ryan Sierakowski passed fellow junior forward DeJuan Jones for the scoring lead. Sierakowski leads the team in scoring with seven goals and three assists for 17 points. Sierakowski has scored at least 17 points in all three seasons in the Green and White, scoring 23 points last season. Jones is second in scoring with six goals and four assists for 16 points.
Joe Baum: HALL OF FAMER
Former MSU soccer head coach and player Joe Baum was inducted into the MSU Hall of Fame on Thursday, Sept. 29. Baum was a part of Michigan State soccer as a player, assistant coach and head coach for a combined 39 seasons. As a goalkeeper, he led MSU to back-to-back co-national championships. Later, he served as the head coach of the men’s program for 32 years and the women’s program for five years, compiling a combined 389 victories. Baum established himself as one of the titans of college soccer during his tenure with the Spartan men’s team. He finished his career with 320 victories, becoming just the second coach in Big Ten history to reach the 300-win plateau.
FANS IN THE STANDS
The Spartans are 12th in the nation in attendance, averaging 1,996 fans per home game. Three Big Ten teams are ranked in the top 12 in the nation with Maryland standing No. 2 (3,230), while Indiana is eighth (2,006).
For the second-time this season, Michigan State topped its DeMartin Stadium attendance record when 4,678 fans packed the stadium and a standing room only crowd watched No. 6 MSU battle to a 0-0 double overtime tie against No. 3 Maryland on Sept. 22. In the first night game of the season on Sept. 1, 3,515 fans filled DeMartin. The previous high was 3,175 last season when MSU defeated Michigan on Sept. 18, 2016.
BEST OF THE BEST
Michigan State is among the nation’s best in the latest NCAA statistics. MSU is seventh in the nation in shutout percentage (.588) and 10th in team goals against average (0.619). Redshirt-junior goalkeeper Jimmy Hague is sixth in the nation in shutouts with 10, 13th in goals against average (0.619). The junior forward Ryan Sierakowski is 18th in the nation in game-winning goals with four and three, respectively.
In 17 games this season, the Spartans are 9-2 in games decided by one goal. Michigan State has won seven 1-0 games and defeated Rutgers, 2-1 on Sept. 8. Last season, the Spartans were an exceptional 10-3 in one-goal games, including four wins in 1-0 decisions. Last time out, Michigan State fell to Ohio State by a one-goal margin, 2-1.
SENIOR CLASS AWARD
Senior defender Jimmy Fiscus was one of 60 NCAA® men’s and women’s soccer student-athletes who excel both on and off the field were selected as candidates for the 2017 Senior CLASS Award® in collegiate soccer. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character and competition.
OH CAPTAIN MY CAPTAIN
This season, the Spartans have three captains in senior Jimmy Fiscus, Brad Centala and Ryan Scott.
Sophomore Giuseppe Barone became the fourth member of the Barone family to don the Green and White last season. He joins current Spartan Hunter as well as former MSU players Mark (2008-11) Domenic (2008-12).