Men's Soccer Travels to North Carolina for Third Round of NCAAs
Nov. 27, 2010
For the fourth consecutive season, the Michigan State men's soccer team has earned a bid to the NCAA Championship. The Spartans will face off with overall No. 4 seed North Carolina in the round of 16.
After a first-round win over intra-state rival Oakland (2-0), the Spartans downed previously-undefeated Butler, 1-0, last Sunday. North Carolina received a first-round bye, and played to a scoreless draw with Georgetown in the second round. UNC advanced on penalty kicks, 5-4.
Michigan State head coach Damon Rensing is in his second season as head coach after serving as an assistant coach for 10 seasons at his alma mater. During his 11 years at Michigan State, Rensing has helped lead the Spartans to 2004 and 2008 Big Ten Tournament championships as well as the 2008 Conference regular-season crown.
Rensing's assistants are Kylie Stannard (Creighton `01), former Spartan head coach Joe Baum (who led the Spartans for 32 seasons before announcing his retirement as the head coach) and Bill Boyle, who played collegiately at Hartwick.
The Spartans finished the 2010 regular season with a 11-7-1 overall record. and fell to eventual champion Michigan, 2-1, in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament. MSU earned one of the 26 at-large bids to the 48-team NCAA Tournament field.
North Carolina went 14-2-2 in the regular season, and fell to Maryland, 1-0, in the finals of the ACC Tournament. The Tar Heels were also an at-large selection.
MSU and North Carolina have faced off against four common opponents. Both teams lost to Akron (MSU dropped a 1-0 decision, while UNC lost 3-0). Both teams downed Duke by a 1-0 score, even though MSU's victory came in an exhibition game. MSU lost to Georgetown 4-0, and UNC battled to a scoreless tie against the Hoyas. MSU downed Maryland in overtime, while UNC beat the Terps in the regular season (2-1), but fell to them in the championship game of the ACC Tournament.
The 48 teams selected to the NCAA Tournament field are vying for the right to compete at the 2010 NCAA Men's College Cup December 10 -12 in Santa Barbara, Calif, at Meredith Field at Harder Stadium. The University of California, Santa Barbara, will host the championship for the first time.
The winner of Sunday's third-round game between Michigan State and North Carolina will advance to a quarterfinal-round contest against either No. 5 seed Southern Methodist or No. 13 seed William & Mary.
In a finish that is usually reserved for Hollywood movies, senior midfielder Jeff Ricondo returned from a monthlong injury layoff and scored the lone goal in a 1-0 Michigan State victory over Butler in NCAA second -round action .
Ricondo, who was sidelined with injury since the Wisconsin game on Oct. 17, entered the game with just over 10 minutes remaining, and buried a shot four minutes later from about 20 yards out. The Spartans had been pressing, and Ricondo was able to keep a ball from a Butler defender and send the shot into the left side-netting.
MSU keeper Avery Steinlage did a nice job of managing the Butler attack, finishing the day with four saves and stifling several other would-be scoring chances.
Michigan State is making it's 14th all-time NCAA Tournament appearance and earned its fourth consecutive bid to the national tournament. The Spartans are 19-10-4 in its previous NCAA Tournament games, which includes a pair of co-national Championships (1967, 1968) and four national championship game appearances.
Michigan State is in the third round of the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1968, a season in which MSU advanced to the National Championship game and tied Maryland, 2-2, in the finals. The teams could not declare a winner through two overtimes, and the squads were declared co-champions.
Michigan State is the only team in the North Carolina bracket which did not advance to the Round of 16 on penalty kicks. UNC downed Georgetown 5-4, SMU advanced 5-3 over Creighton, and William and Mary 4-3 over UMBC.
MSU is one of three schools to advance into the round of 16 that are not among the original 16 seeded teams in the tournament. Dartmouth defeated No. 10 Notre Dame, and Brown got past No. 6 Cal.
Michigan State is one of four sides yet to allow a goal in the NCAA Tournament, and the only one to do it in two games. North Carolina played to a scoreless draw with Georgetown, South Carolina ousted Duke with a 1-0 decision, and Maryland outscored Penn 4-0.
Michigan State defeated Oakland 2-0, then got past Butler with a 1-0 score.
Michigan State and North Carolina have met just once previously in the history of the two programs, in the first round of the 1968 NCAA Tournament, with the Spartans prevailing, 5-0.
In that game, Tony Keyes posted the only hat trick in MSU's NCAA Tournament history and Tom Kreft added a pair of scores as MSU routed North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Current assistant coach and former Spartan head coach Joe Baum stopped eight shots for the Spartans.
Michigan State has played more than half its schedule (12 of 22 games, and 10 of 19 in the regular season) against teams which were selected for the 2010 NCAA Tournament. MSU is 5-7 in those games, which includes the two victories in the NCAA Tournament.
Among those teams, five captured their league tournament titles (Maryland/ACC, Akron/MAC, Michigan/Big Ten, Oakland/Summit, Butler/Horizon), while three others advanced to the finals in their respective league tournaments: Providence fell in the BIG EAST finals to top-ranked Louisville, New Hampshire fell on penalty kicks to Maryland-Baltimore County in the America East finals, and North Carolina fell to Maryland in the ACC championship game.
The most recent Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) was released on Monday (Nov. 15). The RPI is the major tool used by the NCAA men's soccer committee to select the field of 48 which qualifies for the NCAA Tournament; the RPI takes into account not only wins and losses by a team, but also its strength of schedule. Michigan State ranks 15th overall in RPI, the fourth among schools from the Big Ten. MSU was ranked as high as fifth in the RPI this season, which occured in the first week that the rankings were released.
Nine of Michigan State's 18 regular-season opponents appear in the top 20 of the most recent RPI rankings. Of those teams, five of MSU's nine non-conference opponents appear in that top 20, including three in the top 10.
MSU played no. 1 Maryland (W, 4-3, OT), No. 4 Akron (L, 0-1), N No. 10 Notre Dame (W, 2-0), No. 12 Indiana (L, 0-3), No.13 Penn State (L, 1-2), No. 14 Michigan (L, 2-3, OT; L, 1-2), No. 16 Providence (W, 4-0), No. 17 Georgetown (L, 0-4), and No. 20 Ohio State (L, 1-2).
In the NCAA Tournament, MSU downed No. 11 Butler (1-0), and faces off with No. 2 North Carolina this weekend.
All seven of MSU's losses are to teams in the top 20 of the most recent RPI, five of those losses came on the road, and five were by a one-goal margin. The Spartans also own three victories against the RPI top 20: No. 1 Maryland, No. 10 Notre Dame, and No. 11 Butler
In addition to nine RPI top-20 teams on MSU's regular-season schedule this season, the Spartans played stiff compettion in its pre-season tuneups. The Spartans downed Duke (No. 21) in a 1-0 exhibition game at the National Soccer Festival, as well as playing Missouri Valley Champion Bradley (11-8-2) in its first exhibition contest.
Five Big Ten teams earned bids to the NCAA Men's Soccer Championship: Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Penn State. The selections mark the third straight year and the fourth time in conference history that five or more teams have earned bids to the tournament.
The Big East led all conferences with seven teams in the tournament field, while the ACC and Big Ten each had five. All five Big Ten sides have advanced into the Round of 16, with the ACC, Ivy League, and Pac Ten each with two left. Six of the Big East teams have been extinguished, leaving only overall No. 1 Louisville left in competition.
For the fifth consecutive season and 10th time in the past 11 seasons, the Spartans have won 11 games or more. MSU last won 13 games in 2008 when the Spartans captured the Big Ten regular-season and Tournament titles.
In four of the last five seasons, MSU has won 11 regular-season contests, one shy of the most recent high of 12 in 1996.
The members of the Big Ten went a combined 64-46-13 (.573) during the regular season, with four sides - Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, and the Spartans - each winning at least 10 games.
MSU's non-conference opponents combined for an overall regular-season record of 113-72-31 (.594). Only two finished below .500 in their conference's play, and only four were under .500 overall. Five won 10 or more games, including 16-victory Akron and 14-win Maryland.
Six of MSU's 2010 opponents are left in the NCAA Tournament field: Akron, Maryland and the four other Big Ten schools.
MSU has been led by seven seniors, who became the first class in Michigan State history to earn an NCAA Tournament bid in each of the four years of their playing careers. They are also the first group since the 1968 NCAA Champions to win more than one game.
The Spartans scored 28 goals in the 2009 season, and have put 40 on the board through 21 games this year. As much as an improvement as it was, it's still a long way from the school-record 77 scored by the Spartans in 1968.
MSU's 40 goals is the most since 2001, when the Spartans put up 41. That team advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, where it fell to Indiana.
Part of Michigan State's late-season struggles was due to several key players missing from the lineup. Head Coach Damon Rensing lost three back-line players in the first 30 minutes of the game against eventual Big Ten champion Indiana (Oct. 24), a contest the Spartans started without senior co-captain Jeff Ricondo. Ricondo missed the last seven games with injury, but returned for the final 10 minutes of the NCAA Tournament second-round contest at Butler. Sophomore center back Kevin Cope was one of the players lost in the early part of the Indiana game; he tried to go but lasted just 10 minutes in the next game against Michigan (Oct. 30), and did not play against either Akron or Milwaukee. He returned for the Big Ten Tournament, as did senior fullback Jake Fullerton, who returned after missing the Akron and Milwaukee tilts as well.
Additionally, senior midfielder Nosa Iyoha returned to the lineup against Milwaukee after missing six games; he did not play in the second-round contest against Butler.
In all, Rensing's preferred starting 11 has missed 25 complete games this season.
MSU had two of the first three Offensive Player of the Week awards in the Big Ten this season. Spencer Thompson earned the honor on Sept. 13, and Cyrus Saydee shared the award on Sept. 20. Avery Steinlage was picked as the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week on Sept. 20, giving MSU a near-sweep of the weekly awards. Saydee shared his weekly honor with senior Matheus Braga of Penn State.
Michigan State was represented in every category of the 2010 All-Big Ten Teams and Awards, as announced by the Big Ten Conference on Thursday, Nov. 11. Spencer Thompson and Colin Givens were named to the All-Big Ten First Team, with Givens one of four unanimous First-Team pics. Domenic Barone, Kevin Cope and Avery Steinlage each earned spots on the All-Big Ten Second Team. Josh Barens was selected to the All-Freshman squad, and Jeff Ricondo earned the Sportsmanship Award.
Michigan State's game at No. 6 Maryland to open the season was an instant classic - the two teams combined for three goals in a 28-second span within the final 90 seconds of regulation. Domenic Barone had the game-winner in the 96th minute for the MSU victory.
In MSU's second-round game at Butler, the Spartans and Bulldogs were approaching the 80th minute without a score. MSU coach Damon Rensing sent Jeff Ricondo into the game, after the senior co-captain had missed seven games with injury. Four minutes later, Ricondo had the game's lone goal from 20 yards out, and the Spartans were moving on to the Sweet Sixteen.
Two Spartans found themselves on National Teams of the Week after posting back-to-back shutouts to start the NCAA Tournament. Domenic Barone, who had a both goals in MSU's 2-0 victory over Oakland, was on the collegesoccernews.com Team of the Week. Meanwhile, Avery Steinlage was named the goalkeeper on the Topdrawersoccer.com Team of the Week.
Michigan State fell in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament, 2-1, to archrival Michigan. The Wolverines went on to capture the Big Ten Tournament title.
All the game scoring came in the second half of the matchup. Rubin Bega put the Spartans up 1-0 at 53:32, when Cyrus Saydee crossed the ball into the box for Bega, who tapped it in. The equalizer for Michigan came from Justin Meram in the 61st minute and then the go-ahead in the 77th minute of play by Soony Saad..
As a result, Michigan State was finished in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament for the first time in three seasons.
With five teams still in action the weekend after Thanksgiving, the Spartans enter Sunday's game ranked second in the Big Ten in goals allowed (24), GAA (1.12) and shutouts (9), and are third in saves (94), goals (40), goals per game (1.90), and rank fourth in assists per game (1.79)
Individually, Avery Steinlage leads the conference in saves (92), is second in the conference in shutouts (6) and save percentage (.800), third in GAA (1.12), and fourth in saves per game (4.38).
Domenic Barone is sixth in points (23), fifth in goals (10), goals per game (0.59) and points per game (1.35), while Spencer Thompson is third in assists (8) and fifth in assists per game (0.38) Brent Rosendall ranks in a ti for seventh in goals (8), while Cyrus Saydee is fifth in assists (7).
In the most recent NCAA statistical rankings (Mon. 11/22), Michigan State was ranked 12th in total goals with 40 scored this season. The Spartans are also 23rd in the country in scoring offense with an average of 1.9 goals per game.
MSU has allowed just five first-half goals this season of the 24 overall. The Spartan scoring is a little more even, netting 15 in the first half and 24 in the second. All of MSU's goals since the start of the Big Ten Tournament have come in the second half.
Senior keeper Avery Steinlage is chiseling his name in the all-time career records at MSU. Entering Sunday's game, his career save percentage is .858, which places him second in the career recordbook, and his 0.77 GAA is fifth. He owns 35 career wins, good for second place all-time and one victory shy of the school record. His 22 shutouts is second in the MSU annals to John Spink's 23.
Steinlage's 13 victories this season is one better than his previous single-season best, set as a sophomore in 2008. Steinlage's 35 career victories is one shy of the all-time MSU record of 36, held by Reid Friedrichs, who went 36-18-6 from 1993-96.
Spencer Thompson and Jeff Ricondo, the Spartan captains, set an example by generating their best statistical seasons. Ricondo has a 4-4-12 scoring line, better than half his career-best 17 points, despite being sidelined for all but 10 minutes since mid-October with injury. In fact, had put points on the board in five of six games before getting injured in the Oct. 17 game against Wisconsin. In that span, he had two goals and three assists. Despite missing the last five games, he is still MSU's active leading career scorer with 12 goals and 15 assists for 39 points.
Thompson is enjoying the best statistical season of his career, with a team-best eight assists and a career-high three goals. He had a career-best five-point game against Providence (two goals, one assist). Thompson is one away from joining the all-time MSU top ten in single-season assists, and is currently tied for seventh place in career helpers (20).
MSU has three freshmen who have played significant minutes and roles on this season's Spartan team. Josh Barens earned a spot on the back line, making 20 starts in 21 games. Versatile speedster Wesley Curtis has appeared in 18 games, and drew a starting nod in 13. Tim Kreutz is the top-scoring freshman with a goal and a pair of assists, and he has played in 18 games, getting one start.
Domenic Barone has taken three penalty kick chances for the Spartans this season, and has converted on two. The most recent came in the first-round NCAA game against Oakland. He had buried his first chance, coming in Oct. 17 game against Wisconsin. He was stopped on the second attempt, at Michigan - but fought back to net two second-half tallies in that regular-season contest.
Domenic Barone leads the team overall in scoring (10g, 3 a), and had a 3-1-7 scoring line in Big Ten games - netting a third of MSU's scores in Conference contests. No other player had more than one goal in Big Ten games.
Barone had his third two-goal game of the season against Oakland (Nov. 18), and first since the Michigan game on Oct. 30.
Junior transfer Brent Rosendall has made an impression in his first season in Green & White. The Grand Rapids, Mich. native spent his first two seasons at Louisville, and joined the Spartans this fall. He is MSU's second-leading point scorer (20), and is second behind Domenic Barone on the team in goals (8).
Junior Cyrus Saydee is second on the team in assists with seven, behind senior Spencer Thompson's eight. Saydee entered his junior season with five career helpers.
Senior fullback Jake Fullerton scored his first career goal at home against Providence on Sept. 9. He doubled his career total with a goal at home against Wisconsin (Oct. 17).
Sophomore center back Kevin Cope scored his first career goal on Sept. 22 at Duquesne, a tally which stood as the game-winner. His first goal came in his 28th game in Green and White. Cope is a second-year starter.
Senior center back Colin Givens, a two-time All-Big Ten pick (and unanimous pick as a senior) and Second Team All-Great Lakes Region performer as a junior, is one of the top defenders in the Big Ten, and along with sophomore Kevin Cope, forms one of the top defensive tandems in the Conference. Givens, along with classmate Spencer Thompson, trained with FC Toronto last summer in preparation of their then-impending senior seasons.
Senior co-captain Jeff Ricondo had put points on the board in five of six games before getting injured in the Oct. 17 game against Wisconsin. In that span, he had two goals and three assists.
Ricondo was selected as a CoSIDA First Team Academic All-Region selection. The senior is a marketing major with a 3.69 cumulative grade-point average.
Michigan State was picked fifth in the Big Ten preseason poll of Conference coaches. Ohio State was selected as the conference favorite, followed by Indiana at No. 2 and Northwestern and Penn State tied for third place in the survey. Michigan and Wisconsin were picked sixth and seventh, respectively.
The Big Ten announced its preseason "Players to Watch" list on Aug. 28. MSU's Players to Watch were Hermann Trophy Watch List candidate Avery Steinlage, along with senior classmates Spencer Thompson and Colin Givens.
Goalkeeper Avery Steinlage was named to the Missouri Athletic Club's Hermann Trophy Watch List for the 2010 season. Considered the highest individual honor in intercollegiate soccer, the recipients of the MAC's Hermann Trophy are selected by Division I head coaches who are current members of the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA).
The Watch Lists - 39 men and 45 women's players from around the United States - is released in advance of the season. A list of 15 semifinalists is selected by a coaches committee in November, with three finalists announced in early December.
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