Nov. 1, 2012
Saturday, Nov. 3 -- vs. Michigan State - Battle for Big Bear (U-M Soccer Stadium), 7 p.m.
The University of Michigan men's soccer team (7-8-1) will ride a two-match win streak into the final regular-season match of 2012, hosting the Michigan State Spartans (8-8-1) on Saturday (Nov. 3) from U-M Soccer Stadium on a night where five seniors will be honored -- Latif Alashe, Kofi Opare, Brian Klemczak, Etienne Lussiez and Noble Sullivan.
The night will also serve as the annual Battle for Big Bear, as the rivalry trophy will be awarded to the victorious side for the 12th time.
Michigan is 4-10-1 all-time against the Spartans in the annual battle for the coveted trophy. The Wolverines will look to capture the award for the fourth time in program history after losing the trophy last year with a 1-0 defeat in East Lansing. The Wolverines held even with the Spartans for the majority of the match, but a Ryan Keener score in the 73rd minute proved to be the difference.
The Wolverines currently sit in fifth place in the Big Ten Standings with a 2-2-1 Big Ten record, but the top five teams are all separated by one game. Michigan holds a tiebreaker over Indiana in the race, having defeated the Hoosiers 2-1 on Oct. 19. The Wolverines also remain in the NCAA Tournament picture but must achieve a .500 record in order to be considered for the 48-team tournament.
MSU's win over IU Sunday (Oct. 28) put the Spartans in a tie for third place in the Big Ten standings with Indiana and behind Penn State and Northwestern. Penn State has completed its Big Ten regular-season games, while Indiana hosts Northwestern on Thursday (Nov. 1). A win or tie by the Hoosiers would set up a situation where Saturday's match could allow MSU to either claim a share of the Big Ten title (if IU wins) or win it outright if the Hoosiers and Wildcats play to a draw.
Depending on the outcomes of the rest of the Big Ten matches this season, U-M can finish as high as third in the conference table (Northwestern tie on Thursday and a Michigan win over MSU) or as low as sixth with a Wisconsin win over Ohio State (Sunday) and a loss to MSU.
About the Opponent
Michigan State enters the match with an 8-8-1 overall record and 3-2-0 record in the Big Ten, after a 3-1 win over No. 16 Indiana on Sunday (Oct. 28). Most recently, Michigan State was defeated 2-0 by the Akron Zips Wednesday (Oct. 31) in East Lansing.
Michigan State leads the Big Ten in assists with 26, averaging 1.62 per game. Senior defender Ryan Thelen has seven assists on the season. The Spartans are led offensively by sophomore Adam Montague, who has four goals and four assists on the season, and Domenic Barone, who leads the team with an average of 1.92 shots per game. Goalkeepers Zach Bennett and Bryce Dobbins, together, have averaged a .740 save percentage, while Bennett is now tied with Andrew Wolverton of Penn State for highest save percentage (0.833) in the Big Ten.
The Big Bear wood statute commemorates the in-state rivalry of U-M and MSU. The traveling hardware has been up for grabs in each regular-season meeting between the two schools since 2000.
The Wolverines are ranked No. 34 in the most-recent RPI and have played the No. 3 schedule in the country, as four teams (No. 1 Notre Dame, No. 4 Akron, No. 7 Indiana, No. 13 Marquette) all rank in the top 15. Eight of Michigan's opponents rank in the top 50 in the ratings percentage index. Overall, U-M opponents hold a combined record 150-77-41.
Senior tri-captain Latif Alashe has now started 79 straight matches, having never missed a match in his career and now sits alone in third place in program history in the category. Additionally, he is sixth all-time in program history in matches played.
Three Wolverines have found themselves in the starting 11 in each match this season: Latif Alashe ,Tyler Arnone and Adam Grinwis have received nods in the first 16 matches. Grinwis has been the lone Wolverine to play every minute of every match.
Michigan has now outscored teams 12-7 in the first half this season but has been outscored by a 13-7 margin in the second stanza.
The win over Detroit on Tuesday (Oct. 30) marked the first time this season the Wolverines have won back-to-back matches and gives the Wolverines a 6-3-1 at home after going 2-8-1 at U-M Soccer Stadium a year ago. The win is also U-M's fifth of the season by one goal.
Tyler Arnone and James Murphy are now 1-2 on the squad in shots with 32 and 31, respectively. Arnone is also tied with Fabio Pereira for the team lead in points with 11 and leads the team in goals (4).
Adam Grinwis has posted five career shutouts, including three this season. His last came at home against Oakland on Feb. 9. He ranks tied for third in the conference in clean sheets this year.
Michigan is 1-1-1 in overtime matches this season. All three overtime matches have gone into double overtime.
Eleven players have scored at least one goal for the Wolverines this season, equaling last season's total of 11 players scored for the Wolverines. The program record for goal scorers in a season is 13, which was set in 2007.
Grinwis' 74 saves this season rank sixth all-time in the Michigan single-season rankings and are six away from overtaking Patrick Sperry, who had 79 saves in 2007 for third in the single-season records.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
| Malcolm Miller |
Q:What has the transition been like with Coach Daley and his new staff?
A: The transition has had its ups and downs as expected when merging new staff with old players and an incoming freshman class. But overall the team had bonded and embraced the new culture of the program and even though we've lost some games, I believe we are headed in the right direction.
Q: What is the best part about being a Michigan Wolverine?
A: That is actually a tough question because every day I find a new reason I love U of M, but thus far in my career I can say the best part is the respect and pride each member of the Michigan community takes in his or her endeavors. Everyone here is passionate and believes in a job well done.
Q: What has been your most memorable moment in your career thus far?
The most memorable moment in my career was the NCAA Tournament game against Maryland (at Maryland) my freshman year. We always imagined that we would have a good year, but the season just kept getting better and better. We ended up winning the game with the help of Fabio Pereira's late goal, propelling us to the College Cup in Santa Barbara.
Q: You've seen time as a striker in your career but played a bit of a withdrawn attacker role against Valparaiso. Talk about that and if you have to change your style because of that.
The only thing that really changes with each position is the mentality and the emphasis on certain aspects of the game. The role I took against Valpo was to keep their outside back defensively responsible by attacking him relentlessly. So the focus shifted and became a bit more defensive minded with more emphasis on possession and creating the game.
Q: The team has played one of the toughest schedules in the country this season. How does that prepare you for the stretch run in the season and the Big Ten Tournament?
A: I think playing difficult teams shows us exactly where we are and what areas we need to grow and become better. Knowing that every game will go down to the wire, that we'll have to grit our teeth and sacrifice our bodies to ensure a win, means that we cannot take days off and think we are better for it. Having this mindset will be great for us going into the tournament because the stakes become that much higher.
LAST TIME OUT
The Wolverines fell behind in the 40thminute, but a pair of unanswered goals in the 45th minute from sophomore Tyler Arnone and the game-winner from freshman James Murphy in the 66th minute led the Wolverines to an imperative 2-1 victory over the Detroit Titans Tuesday (Oct. 30).
Wed-Sun., Nov. 7-11 -- at Big Ten Tournament (Evanston, Ill.)