EAST LANSING, Mich. -- - Michigan State will host Horizon League champion Cleveland State on Thursday afternoon in the first round of the 2012 NCAA Men's Soccer Tournament. The Spartans will take on the Vikings at home on Thursday at 1 p.m. at DeMartin Stadium. The 48-team field was announced on Monday afternoon.
"We're excited to be in the NCAA tournament- only 48 teams have the opportunity, and we're thrilled that we're one of them," said head coach Damon Rensing. We're looking forward to hosting, too - it will be nice to have the opportunity to play in front of our home fans. We'll see a well-coached team in Cleveland State that has represented the Horizon League very well.
"From our conference's standpoint, I'm excited to see four of our seven Big Ten teams in the NCAA field," continued the head coach. "I think it really speaks to the strength of the Conference. Having such depth in our Conference really helps us prepare for the NCAA Tournament - every game is a battle.
The Spartans earned the Big Ten's autobid to the NCAA Tournament by virtue of a 2-1 overtime victory over Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament championship game on Sunday afternoon in Evanston. Ill. The Spartans allowed a goal with just under three minutes remaining in regulation to their archrival, but freshman Sean Conerty played the role of hero with his goal in the first overtime period. It was MSU's third Big Ten Tournament title in program history, capturing them all within the last nine seasons (2004, 2008, 2012).
The Spartans are making their 15th NCAA Tournament appearance in school history, and fifth in the last six years. Head Coach Damon Rensing is making his second appearance in three seasons as the Spartan head coach.
Cleveland State finished the season 12-5-3 and earned the Horizon's leagues automatic bid into the tournament by beating Loyola 2-0 in the Horizon League Tournament final. The Vikings are 7-0-2 in their final nine games and are unbeaten since September 29th, a 2-1 loss to Wisconsin.