#22 Michigan State Men's Soccer 2013 Preview

Michigan State Spartans

Overall Rank: #22
Conference Rank: #4 Big Ten
#22 Michigan State Men's Soccer 2013 Preview
Michigan State Team Page


Michigan State made a nice run in the Big Ten Tournament, knocking off Indiana, Penn State and Michigan en route to a championship and a berth in the NCAA Tournament. Once there, they took care of Cleveland State before being blanked by Notre Dame. Once again it was another fine finish to the season for the Spartans and maybe this time they can carry over that momentum.

2012 Record: 12-10-1, 3-3-0
2012 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Damon Rensing

With nine starters back there is every hope for a return trip to the NCAA Tournament…and plenty of hope that the trip does not have to depend on whether or not they can win the conference tournament. Adam Montague is an extremely dangerous striker who totaled eight goals and six assists as a sophomore. Jay Chapman was second on the team in points with nine, scoring four goals and adding one assist. He will be counted on to continue to help out Montague in the attack. The midfield has plenty of options as well, most notably Fatai Alashe, Sean Conerty and Cody Henderson. Conerty was pretty much a role-player as a freshman, but he showed plenty of promise and could turn into a star sooner or later. With Kevin Cope leading the defense, they will be in great shape. Cope is a big, tough defender who is a rock in the back. He is also a great leader. Cope alone would make the defense good, yet with the return of Ryan Thelen, Ryan Keener and Josh Barens, the Spartan defense could be the best in the Big Ten. Thelen and Keener joined Cope in the starting lineup for every single game last season. Montague was the only other player to earn that distinction. The returning talent continues in goal where Zach Bennett helped spearhead the Spartan turnaround after their slow start. He allowed just one goal per game and the sophomore is ready to be the full-time starter now.

The problem Michigan State has had recently has been their slow starts. And it has not been like the schedule was terribly difficult. In 2012 they lost to New Hampshire, Harvard and Connecticut and tied Valparaiso during their first four games. That does not sound like a squad that would go on to with a tournament game. With that start, the only way they would be able to make the NCAA Tournament was to win the Big Ten Tournament. It happened, but that is not something Coach Damon Rensing wants to rely on yet again.

Final Projection:
Michigan State should be too talented to have another bad start, but we have said that before. The slate this year begins with three home games against Western Michigan, Oregon State and Valparaiso. Then it is off to Detroit and Marquette. A strong finish may not be quite as likely this year either with four of their last five games coming against Akron, Indiana, Notre Dame and Michigan. That is a tough run with the Big Ten Tournament just around the corner. But if Michigan State can beat Akron, Indiana, Notre Dame and Michigan, then they can win the Big Ten tournament and afford to lose to Valparaiso.

Projected Postseason: NCAA

Returning Leaders:
Goals: Adam Montague, Junior, F, 8
Assists: Ryan Thelen, Senior, D, 7
Shots: Adam Montague, Junior, F, 44
Saves: Zach Bennett, Sophomore, GK, 42

Madness 2014 MLS Draft Rankings:
#49 Kevin Cope


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