The Michigan State women's soccer team faces off with two sets of Bulldogs this week in Butler and Samford. Michigan State will host Butler on Thursday, Aug. 24. Kickoff time is slated for 7 p.m., marking the first-ever night game at DeMartin Stadium. MSU hits the road for the first time in the regular season for a tilt with Samford in Birmingham, Alabama on Sunday, Aug. 27 at 3 p.m.
"Our team and our staff and everyone affiliated with our program is extremely excited for this historic opportunity to play the first-ever game at DeMartin Stadium under the lights. We're extremely grateful to Mark Hollis, Chuck Sleeper with Spartan Fund and especially donor Craig Bush for making this possible. We look forward to a great night of soccer."
--Head Coach Tom Saxton
LAST TIME OUT
Michigan State looks to bounce back from the first loss of the season. The Spartans fell 4-0 in their first match against Washington since 1995. The Spartans shutout Niagara, 2-0, in their home opener on Aug. 20. Senior Kristelle Yewah opened up the scoring for MSU, and junior Lexy Warner added another with her first goal of the season.
Michigan State is currently 1-1-0 in non-conference play. Big Ten matches begin on Sept. 14.
SCOUTING THE BUTLER BULLDOGS
Butler started the season with a 0-0 (OT) draw versus No. 18 Notre Dame (Aug. 18) followed by a 1-0 loss at Ohio University. Goalkeeper Leonie Doege made four saves in the draw against No. 18 Notre Dame, playing in all 110 minutes of the match. The Bulldog goalkeepers combined for a .917 save percentage in the first two matches.
Forward Paige Monaghan leads Butler in shots with eight, followed by forward Halle Stelbasky with six shots. Defender Amanda Kowalski is third on the team in shots with four.
SCOUTING THE SAMFORD BULLDOGS
Samford is 0-2-0 in non-conference play, opening the season with a 3-0 loss to Memphis (Aug. 18) and a 2-1 loss versus Alabama (Aug. 20). Forward Jermaine Seoposenwe netted the lone goal for the Bulldogs in their opening matches. Seoposenwe also leads the team in shots with seven. The senior competed in the 2016 Olympic Games representing South Africa.
Last season, the Bulldogs earned a record of 15-4-2 and made an appearance at the 2016 NCAA Tournament. Samford fell to No. 10 Florida State in the first round, 4-0, snapping a 10-match winning streak.
LIGHT UP THE NIGHT
DeMartin Stadium will set a record on Thursday night with the first-ever night game in the venue's history. The lights were installed over the season after MSU alumnus Craig Bush made a $1 million donation through Spartan Fund.
THE COACHING STAFF
Head Coach Tom Saxton enters his 27th season at the helm of the program. He has amassed an overall record of 255-212-50 for a winning percentage of 0.541.
Associate head coach, Tammy Farnum enters her 21st season with the program. Farnum was a four year letterwinner for the Spartans from 1989-92. Assistant coach, Stacy DeLonge begins her 15th season. DeLonge was a standout in goal for the Spartans from 2000-03. She posted a school-record 34 wins and ranks second with 22 career shutouts.
Cheslik, McKerchie and Kovacs started in all 18 games for the Spartans last season. Cheslik and Kovacs were also named to the Big Ten Players to Watch List in preseason. McKerchie earned three points and took 14 cornerkicks for MSU, while Yewah collected 18 shots in 13 games.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Cheslik, Kovacs and junior Lexy Warner were named to the 2017 Big Ten Women's Soccer Players to Watch List.
Cheslik led the team with 14 points on five goals and four assists. Kovacs spent 1,680 minutes on the field at defense, the second-most of any Spartan, and was credited with 13 shots. Warner tallied five points on two goals and one assist, the fourth highest on the team.
Freshman Danielle Stephan earned her first career point in her first start for the Green and White. The midfielder played 150 minutes in the first two matches for the Spartans. MSU welcomes 10 new student-athletes to the program.
MICHIGAN STATE NOTES
Throughout the 2017 campaign, Michigan State will play against eight different schools who were in the 2016 NCAA Tournament. Seven of those eight schools hail from the Big Ten, including Penn State who was tabbed to finish first in the conference.
MSU returned nine starting players from last season: Cheslik, Kovacs, Warner, Yewah, McKerchie, Jones, Duncan, VanDyke and Misiewicz.
Senior goalkeeper Savanna Wojtanowski split time in net last season, making 7.56 saves per game while posting a 1.61 goals against average. Redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Reilley Ott started in the first two matches for the Spartans, earning a shutout against Niagara and making 11 saves overall.
THE BIG TEN SO FAR
Maryland, Michigan, Nebraska, Northwestern, Penn State and Rutgers top the Big Ten with two wins each after the first weekend of regular season play.
Michigan State will open the month of September with a road game against Bowling green at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 1.
The Spartans will then host a three-game homestand over the following two weeks. The team will host Oakland on Sept. 3 at 1 p.m. and Wake Forest on Sept. 7 at 7 p.m. before opening up conference play against Indiana on Thursday, Sept. 14. Kick is set for 7 p.m.