EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State women's soccer team has a rare, single game this week and all focus is on the No. 17 Wake Forest Demon Deacons. MSU hosts the first-ever meeting between the Spartans and Wake Forest on Thursday, Sept. 7 at 7 p.m. at DeMartin Stadium.
"We're going to have to continue to improve defensively, because we've got some newcomers back there and there's no doubt that we're going to be facing much more rigorous attackers. Wake will be a great test for that. They're on a roll right now. It'll be a good preliminary [test] going into Big Ten play."
-- Head Coach Tom Saxton
LAST TIME OUT
In their last match, the Spartans shut out Oakland, 1-0, on Sept. 3 at DeMartin Stadium. Senior forward Jamie Cheslik scored the game-winning goal. Redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Reilley Ott made all seven saves that came her way in the win.
Michigan State is currently 4-2-0 in non-conference play. Big Ten matches begin on Sept. 14.
ON A ROLL
The Spartans have won their last three matches, including two road contests. MSU defeated Samford, 3-2, in Birmingham, Alabama on Aug. 27 to start the streak. The squad got their second victory against Bowling Green, 2-1, in Bowling Green, Ohio on Sept. 1. The third win came from a 1-0 shutout against Oakland on Sept. 3 at home.
Michigan State has accumulated a three-game winning streak for the first time since 2014.
SCOUTING THE DEMON DEACONS
Wake Forest was ranked at No. 17 in the United Soccer Coaches poll on Sept. 5. and has garnered a 5-1-0 record in non-conference play. The team suffered its first loss on Sept. 4 against Princeton, 2-0.
The offense has been producing for the Demon Deacons, scoring 15 goals so far in only six games. Freshman forward Hannah Betford leads the team in scoring with three goals for six points. Senior midfielder Maddie Huster also has six points, from two goals and two assists. Ten additional players have gotten at least two points for Wake Forest.
Senior goalkeeper Lindsay Preston has seen action in all six games for Wake Forest, playing a total of 478 minutes. Preston has allowed only four goals, garnering a 0.75 goals against average. The goalkeeper has two solo shutouts on the season, against UGA on Aug. 18 and against George Mason on Sept. 1.
This match marks the first meeting for the Michigan State Spartans and the Wake Forest Demon Deacons.
THE COACHING STAFF
Head coach Tom Saxton enters his 27th season at the helm of the program. He has amassed an overall record of 258-213-50 for a winning percentage of 0.543.
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.
Senior forwards Jamie Cheslik and Kristelle Yewah along with senior midfielder Morgan McKerchie and junior midfielder Michaela Kovacs captain the 2017-18 Michigan State women's soccer team. 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 midfielder Danielle Stephan leads the team in assists with four, and has started in all six games for the Spartans. Stephan has seen 477 minutes on the field this season and has taken a team-high 16 cornerkicks.
Midfielder Bella Jodzis has come in off the bench in five games, playing in 83 minutes in total and taking one corner for MSU.
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.
Redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Reilley Ott started in all six matches for the Spartans, making 33 saves overall for the season. Ott has claimed two shutouts, the season-opener against Niagara (Aug. 18) and against Oakland (Sept. 3). Ott made a season-high 10 saves against Samford (Aug. 27), and owns a 1.33 goals against average. Despite a slow start to the season, senior forward Jamie Cheslik leads the team in goals and points, generating three goals and two assists for a total of eight points. Cheslik also has two game-winning goals that came against Samford (Aug. 27) and Oakland (Sept. 3).
THE BIG TEN SO FAR
Rutgers stands in first place with a perfect 5-0-0 record in non-conference play and has yet to give up a goal. Maryland sits in second place with a 5-0-1 record, while Ohio State is right behind with a 4-0-1 record.
MSU is currently in ninth out of the 14 teams.
Michigan State will host the first two conference games at DeMartin Stadium, facing off with Indiana on Thursday, Sept. 14 (7 p.m.) and Purdue on Sunday, Sept. 17 (1 p.m.)