EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State men’s soccer team will host Summit League champion Oakland in the first round of the NCAA Men’s Soccer Championship on Saturday, Nov. 24 at Old College Field. The NCAA berth is the program’s 11th appearance in the tournament and the third under head coach Joe Baum. An MSU victory over Oakland would set up a contest at No. 11 Notre Dame on Wednesday, Nov. 28 at 7:30 p.m. Michigan State has already defeated both Oakland (2-1) and Notre Dame (1-0) earlier this year.
Michigan State, which is 17-8-3 all-time in the NCAA Championship, last advanced to the tournament after winning the Big Ten championship in 2004. MSU lost at Tulsa, 3-1, in that match. The Spartans also appeared in the national tourney in 2001, defeating Horizon League champ Butler, 2-1, before dropping a 1-0 contest at Indiana. MSU appeared in the national tournament every year from 1962-69, winning two co-national championships in 1967 and 1968. Baum was the starting goalkeeper on those two teams.
"We were really nervous, watching all the teams on the board," Baum said after his team watched the tournament selection show Monday night. "We thought we had the numbers to get in, but we were still nervous. We couldn’t ask for anything more. We’re happy to be at home and playing on our own field."
MSU scored twice in the first 14 minutes to defeat Oakland at Old College Field back on Oct. 17. Senior Rauwshan McKenzie and freshman Nosa Iyoha scored for the Spartans. Oakland’s Martin Sandell made it close with a goal in the 56th minute, but MSU staved off the comeback to win.
Freshman Spencer Thompson scored the game-winner in the 64th minute of MSU’s Oct.14 win over then-No. 3 Notre Dame. McKenzie made two key open-net saves on defense to preserve the most impressive win on Michigan State’s season resume.
The top 16 teams in the nation are seeded and receive first-round byes in the 48-team tournament. ACC champion Boston College (15-4-1) is the number one seed, followed by Wake Forest, Connecticut and Indiana, respectively. Big Ten champion Ohio State rounds out the top five teams. The College Cup, NCAA soccer’s version of the Final Four, will be held Dec. 14 and 16 at SAS Soccer Park in Cary, N.C. North Carolina State is the tournament host.