Nov. 22, 2013
EAST LANSING, Mich. - After earning a first round bye, the 11th-seeded Michigan State men's soccer team (12-5-3) will host Louisville (10-6-3) on Sunday, Nov. 24 at 1 p.m. in the 2013 NCAA Tournament Second Round. Held at DeMartin Stadium, general admission tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for students with a valid ID, youth (under-18) and seniors (55-and-over).
Spartans in the NCAA Tournament
11th-seeded Michigan State will be making its 16th NCAA Tournament appearance in school history, and sixth in the last seven years. Head Coach Damon Rensing is making his fourth appearance in five seasons at the helm of the Spartans.
MSU owns an all-time tournament record of 20-10-5, including 6-5 in the second round, 0-0-2 in the third round and 4-1-1 in the semifinals. The team has advanced to six College Cups and appeared in four National Championship games, including two Co-National Championship titles in program history (1967 and 1968).
The Case of the Cards
The Spartans hold an all-time record of 1-1-1 over Lousiville, with the most recent meeting between the two teams resulting in 1-0 loss for MSU at the U-of-M Invitational on Sept. 11, 2005. The Cardinals concluded the 2013 regular season as the American Athletic Conference champions in its inaugural season. Making its seventh-straight NCAA appearance, Louisville is 9-6 all-time in the tournament with one College Cup appearance (2010)
In the rankings, Louisville is No. 12 in the SoccerTimes.com poll, 14th by Soccer America, 15th in the College Soccer News poll, No. 17 in the official NSCAA poll, 18th by College Sports Madness, No. 21 by TopDrawerSoccer.com and sits at 24th in the NCAA RPI Rankings.
In his eighth season as head coach, Ken Lolla owns a 97-44-20 record and returned nine letterwinners from the 2012 squad that finished 14-6-1 and first in the Big East Red Division. The Cardinals are led by Ricardo Velazco (7-9-23), Andrew Brody (3-8-14) and Jimmy Ockford (4-0-8). In goal, Joachim Ball owns a 0.68 GAA with a .797 Sv%, playing 12 of Louisville's games this season.
In the Rankings
In the NCAA men's soccer RPI rankings released on Nov. 20, Michigan State improved to No. 12 in the nation. The Spartans remain the 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. 14 in the official NSCAA poll, 15th by College Sports Madness, No. 16 by TopDrawerSoccer.com, 18th in the College Soccer News poll and No. 20 in the SoccerTimes.com poll. Regionally, the Spartans tied for third with Marquette in the final NSCAA Great Lakes poll.
The Spartans (3-2-1) finished third in the Big Ten standings. MSU leads the Big Ten in with 11 shutouts, fewest goals allowed (15), goals against average (0.71), and is tied for first in total assists (39) and assists per game (1.96). The Spartans are second in second total shots (323) and total saves (108). MSU is also No. 3 in shots per game (5.05) total points (101) and goals per game (1.55).
In the NCAA standings released on Nov. 17, MSU has the third-best save percentage (.878) in the nation. They are also tied for No. 6 in shutout percentage (.55), tied for 10th in total assists (39) and are No. 14 in assists per game (1.95). The Spartans sit at No. 20 with a .71 team goal against average and are 21st with 5.40 saves per game.
Last Time Out
In the Big Ten Tournament final, Michigan State lost a hard-fought battle to the defending NCAA Champions Indiana, 1-0 on Sunday afternoon.
Both teams set a fast, physical pace from the beginning of the game, battling harsh weather conditions in Columbus. Michigan State did a good job of establishing possession in the first half, and earned its most dangerous chance when Kyle Rutz shot a bullet that forced the Hoosier keeper to come up with a critical save for Indiana.
With the wind in Indiana's favor in the second half, Indiana took advantage of the conditions, sending rockets on frame and earning nine corner kicks, while Michigan State drew none. Though Zach Bennett held off an onslaught of shots for the Spartans, he was unable to keep a strike from Jamie Vollmer out of the net in the 66th minute, giving Indiana a 1-0 lead.
Some solid ball movement created opportunities for the Spartans, but the combination of the wind and the Hoosier defense kept any shots out of the net. In goal, Bennett recorded seven saves on the day to improve his season total to 106, seventh-most in MSU history.
At The Helm
Head Coach Damon Rensing is in his fifth season as head coach, but his 15th on the Spartan sideline after a standout career for the Spartans (1993-96). Rensing is 55-38-12 (.524) in his five seasons as head coach, but MSU boasts a 134-78-24 (.618) 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.
Follow along with the game through live stats available at MSUSpartans.com and follow @MSUMSoccer on twitter for play-by-play updates during the game.
If the Spartans defeat Louisville, they will go on to play the winner of sixth-seeded Georgetown and Old Dominion in the third round on Sunday, Dec. 1.