Spartans Face No. 5/1 Connecticut Monday

By: Michigan State University
By: Michigan State University

• Michigan State hosts its biggest game of the young season as it welcomes Connecticut to DeMartin Stadium for a non-conference match. Connecticut is the No. 5 team in the NSCAA poll this week, and hold down the No. 1 spot in the Soccer America survey. The Spartans are 1-1-1 on the year, while UConn is 2-0 coming into the contest.

• Admission to Monday's contest is free of charge to all spectators. It will also serve as Student-Athlete Appreciation Day.

• Monday's game will be broadcast live by Connecticut's WHUS. A live link to the broadcast can be found at http://www.whus.org/

• The Spartans traveled to Bowling Green on Wednesday for their first road game of the season, and earned a 2-1 victory to even their overall record. MSU, which had not scored in its first two matches, got a goal and an assist from senior Domenic Barone as well as a score from sophomore Adam Montague in the contest. Both goals came off headers - Montague's was scored with just eight seconds remaining in the opening half, and Barone's broke a 1-1 deadlock in the 79th minute. Junior keeper Bryce Dobbins made two saves to earn his first collegiate victory.

• Barone and Montague are the team's leading scorers, as the two goals against the Falcons on Wednesday equal the team's total on the season. However, MSU's defense has been stingy, allowing just two goals in the three games, two of which have gone to double overtime. Dobbins owns a .060 GAA and an .800 save percentage, and earned his first collegiate shutout in a 0-0 battle against Valparaiso in the season opener.
MSU owns the second-best team defense in the Big Ten (0.60 team GAA), and Dobbins ranks behind Indiana's Luis Soffner among goaltenders in GAA, and he also ranks third in save percentage. Barone's three points is tied for fourth among Big Ten scorers.

• Connecticut comes into Monday's match off an overtime victory at home against Dartmouth on Friday evening, 2-1. In that game, Preseason All-American Mamadou Doudou Diouf finished off the golden goal at 94:58, gaining the victory after Dartmouth had forced extra time by scoring a dramatic game-tying goal with just five seconds remaining in regulation.
Diouf leads the team in scoring with a pair of goals on the season, trailed by Allando Matheson, which has a goal and an assist, both coming in the game against Dartmouth. Keeper Andre Blake has played both games for the Huskies, boasting a 0.49 GAA and .750 save percentage. Over two games, he has seen just four shots on net, saving three.

• Michigan State was selected third in the pre-season Big Ten men's soccer poll. In conjunction with the pre-season survey, Senior Domenic Barone , junior Kevin Cope and sophomore Adam Montague were mentioned on the Big Ten 2012 Players to Watch List.

• Five teams on MSU's 2012 slate appeared in the Soccer America pre-season Top 25. A sixth, Duke, was on MSU's pre-season slate, a game in which the Spartans came away with a 1-0 victory.

• Head Coach Damon Rensing is in his fourth season as head coach, but embarks on his 14th on the Spartan sideline after a standout career for the Spartans (1993-96). Rensing is 31-23-9 in his first three seasons as head coach, but MSU boasts an 110-64-21 (.619) overall record with Rensing on the sidelines, including 11 or more wins in eight seasons.
Kylie Stannard and Ben Pirmann serve as the Spartan assistants. Pirmann is also a former Spartan letterwinner, and previously served the program as the volunteer assistant before returning to his alma mater after a coaching stint at Western Michigan. Stannard is a graduate of Creighton, which reached the Elite Eight twice in his career and the semifinals once. Prior to coming to MSU, he was an assistant coach at Northern Illinois. This past summer, Stannard made his debut as the head coach of Detroit City FC, which plays in the National Premier Soccer League. Former MSU keeper Jeremy Clark, (2008-11), is now in his first season as the team's volunteer coach.

• There are lots of great ways to follow the soccer program - as well as all 25 of MSU's varsity sports - other than gameday. Videos, previews, and game recaps can be found at www.MSUSpartans.com, while coverage of the team on twitter can be found at @MSUMSoccer and @MSU_Athletics . On facebook, "like" us at www.facebook.com/pages/Michigan-State-Mens-Soccer

• The Big Ten Network will televise three Michigan State men's soccer games live this season. MSU's showdown with 2011 regular-season and Big Ten Tournament champion Northwestern at DeMartin Stadium is the first game (Sept. 30), and the other home game which will be shown is the Oct. 21 date with Wisconsin. The Oct. 14 game at Penn State is the other live broadcast for MSU during the regular season. The Big Ten Network will also televise the Big Ten Tournament, which will be held Nov. 7-11 at Northwestern.

• After Monday's game, the Spartans will head east for a pair of important out-of-region games. MSU will play Friday afternoon at Harvard, then will compete on Sunday at Providence.


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