MSU Soccer Closes Out Non-Conference Slate at Oakland Tuesday

Michigan State University
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EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State men’s soccer will conclude non-conference action against in-state rival Oakland on Tuesday, Oct. 22 at 7 p.m. at Oakland Soccer Field. The game will be senior night for the Grizzlies.

MSU is now 3-7-3 and holds a 3-1-1 record in the Big Ten Conference. Oakland is 6-6-2 overall and 4-1-0 in Horizon League play.

Last time out, the Spartans showed their offensive power, defeating Ohio State 3-1 on Alumni Day. Three different Spartans found the back of the net.

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After playing four home games and only two road games in September, the Spartans have seen a big difference the remainder of the season. Michigan State has only one game remaining in East Lansing against Indiana on Nov. 3, which is senior day. The Spartans have three road games remaining in October, including two in Big Ten action.

This season, Michigan State has been strong on the road, as MSU is 2-2 on the road with a wins against No. 22 Rutgers (Sept. 27) and Wisconsin (Oct. 6).

Michigan State’s 12 goals have been scored by nine different players, including first-time goal scorers Conner George, Gianni Ferri, Olu Ogunwale, Alex Shterenberg and Alaa Algahim. Farai Mutatu, Michael Miller and Shterenberg are the only two Spartans with two goals.

In the Spartans’ win against Ohio State on Oct. 19, six different players earned a point in the 3-1 win. Freshman forward Conner George and junior midfielder Michael Miller both had three points. George had the game-winning goal and an assist, while Miller had a trio of assists. George earned his first collegiate points in the win against the Buckeyes.

Junior midfielder Michael Miller showed a flair for the dramatic in the Spartans’ 2-1 overtime win over Wisconsin on Oct. 6. Miller’s second goal of the season came off of a corner kick that he bent over the head of Badger goalkeeper Dean Cowdroy in the 94th minute in overtime for MSU’s second win of the season.

Miller added to his resume with three assists in the win against Ohio State on Oct. 19. The junior now leads the team in scoring with two goals and three assists for seven points.

The Oct. 11 game against Maryland was a rain-drenched affair that ended in a 1-1 tie after 90 minutes. Due to the field conditions, the referees called the game and declared the tie with both teams taking the point in Big Ten action. Senior midfielder Michael Pimlott found the back of the net for the Spartans in the first half, but the Terps found the equalizer in the 78th minute.

Just over halfway through the conference season, the Spartans are now third in the Big Ten with a 3-1-1 record and seven points. Indiana is the only team in the league with a perfect league record with 4-0-0 mark good for 12 points. Penn State is second with a 3-1-1 record and 10 points. Michigan completes the top four with a 2-1-2 record with eight points.

Michigan State captured its first win of the season at DeMartin Stadium. This year, the Spartans are now 1-5-3 at home with two losses to ranked teams in No. 13 Washington and No. 20 Notre Dame.

Michigan State has already played five overtime games in its first 12 outings. Last season, the Spartans played four overtime games all season, going 0-0-4 in those games. This year, MSU is 1-1-3 in extra time. Five of the Spartans’ six of defeats have been by one goal. The Spartans have lost three games 1-0, including two to ranked teams in No. 13 Washington and No. 20 Notre Dame.

The Spartans travel to Oakland for an in-state matchup on senior day. The Grizzlies have an overall record of 6-6-2 and a conference record of 4-1-1. Their most recent game was a 3-2 loss to the UIC Flames. Junior midfielder and captain Noah Jensen scored a goal just 53 seconds into the contest and also assisted junior forward Charlie Braithwaite on his fifth goal of the season. However, the Flames were able to score three unanswered goals in the second half to secure a victory.

Oakland ranks second in the Horizon League in goals (26), assists (27) and points (79). Junior forward Charlie Braithwaite leads the team in goals scored with 5 and Junior midfielder Dylan Borczak leads the team in assists with 8.

Goalkeeper Sullivan Lauderdale has started every game this year, playing over 1,000 minutes. He has recorded three shutouts this season.

Head coach Eric Pogue is in his 11th season as head coach and 18th season with the program. He has been apart of five conference titles and appeared in six NCAA tournaments.

Oakland leads the series 21-13-3. However, MSU has won the past four matchups. The most recent game was played in East Lansing last season, and it was a 4-2 victory for the Spartans. Goals came from DeJuan Jones (2), Giuseppe Barone and Ryan Sierakowski.

Redshirt-sophomore goalkeeper Hunter Morse is among the leaders in several categories in the Big Ten. He is first in the saves with 64, just ahead of Wisconsin’s Dean Cowdroy, who has 49 saves. Morse is also fourth in the league in goals against average (1.18). Morse also is second in save percentage (.800).
Sophomore forward Farai Mutatu is first in the conference in shots with 42, averaging 3.23 spg. Junior midfielder Michael Miller is tied for seventh in the league in assists with three, which all came in the win against Ohio State.

As Michigan State fought through some early-season injuries, several young Spartans have seen playing time. Through 14 games, six true freshmen have played with Alaa Algahim, Conner George, Colton Stanley, Nick Stone and Gianni Ferri all getting starts. Overall, 15 underclassmen have played this season for MSU.

Redshirt-junior defender Patrick Nielsen made his first appearance of the 2019 season against Rutgers. Nielsen who has been battling injury played nine minutes at the end of the game against the Scarlet Knights. He made his first start of the season against Wisconsin on Oct. 6 and played 71 minutes against No. 25 Maryland on Oct. 11. He started his third-straight game against Ohio State on Oct. 19, playing all 90 minutes and adding an assist.

Despite the exact same spelling freshman midfielder Conner George is no relation on senior guard from the MSU men’s basketball team (George’s mother, Cathy, is also the MSU volleyball coach). George the freshman forward hails from Louisville, Kentucky.

Three former Michigan State men’s soccer players were drafted on the first day of the Major League Soccer SuperDraft in Chicago on Jan. 11, 2019. Senior forward DeJuan Jones led the way as the 11th overall pick, drafted by the New England Revolution.

For the first time ever, the Spartans had two players drafted in the first round as fellow senior forward Ryan Sierakowski was drafted 23rd overall by the Portland Timbers. Senior goalkeeper Jimmy Hague was the sixth pick of the second round (30th overall), taken by FC Cincinnati. Hague will see a familiar face when he arrives in Cincinnati with former Spartan great Fatai Alashe on the roster.

In 2018, Ken Krolicki was the first Spartan drafted since defender Zach Carroll in 2016 when he was chosen as the 53rd overall pick, chosen as the seventh player in the third round. In 2014, three Spartans signed to play for MLS with Fatai Alashe being chosen fourth overall, the highest ever for MSU. Jay Chapman a signed a homegrown contract with Toronto FC, while Adam Montague was taken in the third round by the Vancouver Whitecaps.

This season, Michigan State will have three captains in seniors Giuseppe Barone, Michael Pimlott and redshirt-junior Patrick Nielsen.

The Spartans finished the 2019 season with an overall record of 14-5-4 and a 4-2-2 Big Ten ecord earning a trip to the NCAA College Cup for the first time since 1968.

After facing Oakland on Tuesday, Oct. 22, Michigan State rounds out the week at Northwestern on Friday, Oct. 25 at 8:30 p.m.