#3 Michigan State vs. #11 Providence Men's Soccer 2014 NCAA Tournament Quarterfinals Game Breakdown


#3 Michigan State vs. #11 Providence

Michigan State is back in the Elite Eight for a second consecutive season and they will take on a Providence team that is playing very well at the moment. The Spartans come in to this one riding the momentum of their comeback victory over Washington in the third round. Trailing 2-0 with 15 minutes to play, the Spartans scored twice to force overtime and then beat the Huskies 4-3 on penalties. Providence enters after beating UC Irvine 1-0 in the third round. The Friars have been a different team since they dropped their final two regular season games, winning five straight. That streak started in the Big East tournament, where Providence dispatched two NCAA tournament teams, Creighton and Xavier, en route to a title, and continued with wins over Dartmouth and Irvine in the tournament.

Providence’s specialty has been goal scoring this season and they will look to ride their high scoring duo of Markus Naglestad, ten goals, and Mac Steeves, nine goals, against a strong Michigan State defense. The Spartans have a top-notch defensive unit that has been a big part of the Spartan’s success this year, sometimes carrying the team as it went through some offensive struggles. Michigan State uncharacteristically gave up two goals to Washington and a bounce back performance should be expected. If you’re Providence though, the Washington result should be encouraging. Like Providence, Washington was led by their offensive output and if Michigan State doesn’t clean up their mistakes, Providence could find success as well.

Midfield play should be key for both teams, as the Spartans look to take pressure off their backline and Providence looks to build up play for their attack. Michigan State’s central midfield duo of Jay Chapman and Fatai Alshe could cause problems for the Friars. Alashe is a tough defensive midfielder that will cause problems in front of the Spartans backline, while Chapman is a creative midfielder that will come out of the midfield and put himself in dangerous attacking positions. Providence will have their hands full. Getting good midfield play is important for Michigan State as they look to separate the dangerous Friar forwards from the rest of their attack.

Coming off the Elite Eight run last year, Michigan State has their sights set on going even further this season. This is a veteran Spartan team and they want to put their mark on the program before they leave. Senior forwards Tim Kreutz and Adam Montague connected to score the game-tying goal in the Spartans win over Washington and that bodes very well for Michigan State. Kreutz and Montague had been in a bit of a scoring slump of late, but that changed when Montague flicked a ball on to Kreutz to tie the game with just over two minutes remaining. Should the duo build off that in this game, the Spartans could find themselves clicking on all cylinders at just the right time.


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