Aug. 23, 2012
Michigan State continues a four-game season-opening homestand with a pair of games at home this weekend against Loyola (Md.) and Cal State Fullerton. On both Friday and Sunday, fans will be treated to doubleheaders at DeMartin Stadium, with both the women's and men's teams in action. In addition, both programs are celebrating their alumni weekends, with alumni activites on Saturday before being honored on the field during Sunday contests.
WATCH: Weekend Soccer Preview
The 2012 version of the Spartan women's soccer team has 10 new faces after the departure of the same number of seniors from last year's squad. However, there are several veterans at key positions which will help anchor and guide this year's team, and help not only the newcomers transition to college soccer, but also help the returning players move into new roles.
The team captains are seniors Olivia Stander and Jordan Mueller, and junior Annie Steinlage. Stander, the team's top returning scorer from a year ago, will be the team's rock up front, and has talented newcomers and veterans to work with in an effort to generate offense. Mueller will anchor the midfield, the area which has the most new faces. MSU's back line has the most returning experience, as Steinlage, senior Desiree Aber, and junior Kelsey Mullen all return, but some disappointment in the form of senior Kelsey Kassab suffering a season-ending injury in the Fordham game has Saxton auditioning others in the back for a larger role. Redshirt sophomore Courtney Clem will be the Spartans' keeper out of the gate -she worked two years behind three-year starter Jill Flietstra, and drew spot duty when Flietstra had injuries which kept her out of the lineup. Clem has allowed just one goal in the first two games.
Tom Saxton begins his 22nd season as the head coach of the Spartan women's soccer program, Saxton has spent more than half his life involved with Michigan State soccer. A life-long Spartan, Saxton earned three letters as a player before returning to campus in 1989 to assist legendary Spartan soccer coach Joe Baum with both the men's and the new women's program. Saxton was appointed the second head coach in the history of the women's program on June 1, 1991. In 21 seasons, Saxton's career record stands at 213-169-39.
Tammy (Anderson) Farnum was a four-year letterwinner and standout defender at Michigan State, (1989-92) is now in her 16th season on the Spartan staff, and has been the Associate Head Coach since 1995. Assistant coach Stacy Heller was a standout keeper for MSU (2000-03) and was a two-time All-Big Ten Selection and an Academic All-America as a senior. She has mentored two of the program's most prolific keepers since her graduation, Nicole Galas and current volunteer assistant Jill Flietstra, who graduated in 2012 and joins the staff in her first post-graduate coaching position.
MSU posted a commanding 4-0 victory at Bowling Green last Friday evening in the season opener for both teams. Courtney Clem had her first shutout of the season, forced to make just one save on the evening. Offensively, Megan Marsack and Lisa Vogel combined for three of the four Spartan goals, and Olivia Stander finished with a pair of assists in the contest. In MSU's home opener, the Spartans posted a 2-1 victory over Fordham. Annie Steinlage had a goal and an assist, senior Jordan Mueller scored for MSU, while Courtney Clem made six saves for the Spartans in net.
Marsack, who had a goal and an assist in her freshman season, has already surpassed her freshman year total in both goals (2) and points (4). Vogel did not have any points as a freshman, but not only had a goal and two assists on Friday, but also scored the lone goal in MSU's exhibition victory last weekend over Milwaukee. Steinlage scored her first collegiate tally against Fordham.
Loyola has played just once this season, a 1-1 deadlock with visiting Howard on Wednesday at home. The Greyhounds are coming off an 8-12-1 season, but are picked to finish third in the MAAC this season, and will be bolstered by the return of seven of their top eight scorers from a year ago, including local (Okemos) product Nichole Schiro. The standout forward is the two-time MAAC Offensive Player of the Year, and had 13 goals and 30 points in 2011 as a junior.
On Sunday, the Spartans welcome Cal State-Fullerton to DeMartin Stadium, and the Titans travel to the Midwest this weekend with an 0-2 record, both one-goal losses (to USC and Loyola Marymount, in OT). The Titans will play at Michigan on Friday afternoon before Sunday's showdown. The Titans, who finished 9-8-3 overall a season ago, was picked third in the Big West pre-season poll. Christine Burkenroad has two of the three Fullerton goals this season, while preseason All-Big West selection Ann Marie Tangorra has the other.
Michigan State was selected in a sixth-place tie with Iowa as the Big Ten announced its 2012 women's soccer preseason coaches' poll and players to watch list on Tuesday, Aug. 14. In addition, the league released its list of 36 "Players to Watch" - three from each team. Jordan Mueller, Olivia Stander and Annie Steinlage were the three Spartans who earned a spot on that list.
Six of MSU's eight non-conference games will be played at DeMartin Stadium, the home of Michigan State soccer. The two road tilts in that span are both easy trips - Friday's tilt at Bowling Green, and a midweek game at Oakland (7p.m.) on Sept. 5.
Once the Big Ten season begins, the Spartans play in some of the toughest road venues the Conference has to offer - Penn State, Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio State, Minnesota, and Ann Arbor. MSU will have its first-ever home game against Nebraska, which joined the Big Ten last season. The Spartans downed the Huskers last year in Lincoln.
The Big Ten Network will televise three Michigan State women's soccer games live this season. Two of those games will come on the road - at Minnesota (Sept. 23) and at Illinois (Oct. 4), a night game against the Illini. On Sept. 30, the Network will air a women's/men's doubleheader from DeMartin Stadium, showing the women's game against Iowa as well as the men's contest against Northwestern. The Big Ten Network will also televise the Big Ten Tournament, which will be held Oct. 31-Nov. 4 in Bloomington, Ind.