Big Bear Trophy
Nov. 6, 2013
The University of Michigan (8-5-3, 3-2 Big Ten) men's soccer team takes on the No. 18 Michigan State Spartans (9-4-3, 2-2-1 Big Ten) on Saturday (Nov. 9) at DeMartin Soccer Complex in East Lansing in the Battle for Big Bear Trophy matchup. The match will also prove vital in the upcoming Big Ten Tournament seeding, as both sides are looking to lock up the No. 2 seed.
U-M enters match two of the final week of the regular season coming off a 1-0 victory on Senior Night over the Valparaiso Crusaders on Monday (Nov. 4). The win gave U-M a 4-1 record in the longest homestand in program history and lifts the Wolverines to an overall mark of 8-5-3 heading into the all-important Big Ten regular-season finale against the Michigan State Spartans on Saturday (Nov. 9) in East Lansing.
The match will also serve as the annual Battle for Big Bear, as the rivalry trophy will be awarded to the victorious side for the 13th time. The Wolverines are looking to defend the trophy for the first time in program history, as U-M has yet to defeat the Spartans on back-to-back occasions. Michigan is 5-10-1 all-time against the Spartans. The Big Bear wood statute commemorates the in-state rivalry of U-M and MSU, and the traveling hardware has been up for grabs in each regular-season meeting between the two schools since 2000.
According to BennettRankings.com, U-M has played the No. 35 toughest schedule in the country. The five sides U-M has lost to this season hold a combined record of 51-17-12. Overall, U-M's 16 opponents this season have a combined 131-92-55 record.
U-M is 6-2 in its last eight matches and currently sits in second place in the Big Ten conference table with nine points (Wisconsin), behind Penn State (15). The Nittany Lions clinched the league and top seed in the Big Ten Tournament on Oct. 27 with a 2-1 overtime victory over Northwestern.
Michigan has clinched at least a top-four spot in the upcoming Big Ten Tournament and owns tiebreakers over Wisconsin. A win would secure a second-place seed in the tournament. A pair of Big Ten matches will be played on Friday night as Ohio State travels to Wisconsin and Northwestern entertains Indiana, leaving U-M with a clear Big Ten Tournament picture prior to Saturday's match.
Fabio Pereira's game-winning penalty kick against Valpo was the fifth of his career and first of the season. He sits tied with Michael Holody (five) and trails only Kevin Taylor with eight. Last season, the Brazilian went 3-of-4 at the spot.
Against Valpo, U-M held an opponent to single-digit shots for the seventh time this season. U-M is 5-2-1 in such matches, with the pair of defeats coming against Northwestern and Penn State.
The win over Indiana on Saturday (Oct. 26) marked the first win over Indiana in Ann Arbor in program history. The win was the third ever over IU and is the second straight, as the Wolverines downed the eventual NCAA champion last year in Bloomington by a 2-1 score line.
Tyler Arnone now leads the team in assists with five and is tied for second on the team in points with nine. James Murphy and TJ VanSlooten continue to pace the team in scores with four apiece. Pereira is No. 1 on the side with 49 shots, with Murphy trailing slightly with 45. Michigan has outshot opponents 234-186, and outscored opponents by a 21-19 margin.
With three shots against Akron (Oct. 30), Pereira broke the career shots attempted record as he now has 192 on his career. The previous record was held by Mauro Fuzetti (2006-09), who had 186 in his four seasons in Ann Arbor. Pereira now has his sights set on Adam Bruh (28 helpers) and the career assist record, as he has 21 on his career and has had an assist in three of his last four matches.
Michigan has broken the 1,000-fan barrier seven times this season. U-M is No. 2 in the Big Ten behind Indiana in home attendance, averaging 1,255 fans per match.
The win over Creighton marked U-M's first home win against a ranked opponent since the 1-0 overtime win over No. 4 Akron on Oct. 18, 2011. The last time Michigan beat a ranked team overall was on Oct. 19 of last year when the Wolverines downed No. 11 Indiana, 2-1.
U-M is now 14-6-3 all-time at home under the direction of Chaka Daley. Last season, U-M went 4-2 in the month of November, with the only defeats coming in the Big Ten Championship match (Michigan State) and the second round of the NCAA Tournament (Akron).
With the 12th clean sheet of his career, senior/junior goalkeeper Adam Grinwis is now third in program history in shutouts. He trails Peter Dzubay and Patrick Sperry, who have 19 apiece. The senior/junior has four clean sheets on the campaign, had six last year and collected a pair in his redshirt freshman season.
The match against Creighton marked the second straight in which a freshman has scored his first career marker -- Lars Eckenrode against Creighton and Yamann Sahlool's at Penn State on Oct. 11. It is also the third time in four games a player has netted his first career U-M tally as Marcos Ugarte, who played his first two seasons at Providence, scored against Western Michigan on Oct. 2. The goal for Eckenrode against Creighton was the first of his career and marked the 11th different goal scorer for the Wolverines this season.
The 19 shots against Creighton were the most over a regular-season ranked opponent since the 2010 season when U-M had 22 shots on Oct. 30 against Michigan State.
The win over Wisconsin marked the second time this season that U-M had been outshot (13-15) but won the match. U-M has been outshot on four other occasions this year (Bowling Green, Marquette, Notre Dame, Oakland). Overall, the Wolverines hold a 234-186 shot advantage on the season.
Michigan's four overtime matches equal last season's total of four. U-M was 1-2-1 in such matches in 2012. Prior to the 0-0 draw against Oakland (Sept. 24), the Wolverines last played to a scoreless draw on Sept. 17, 2010, against Notre Dame. This season, U-M is unbeaten in overtime matches with a 1-0-3 record.
Michigan State -- In the NCAA men's soccer RPI rankings released on Nov. 4, Michigan State was No. 11 in the nation and is the second highest-ranked Big Ten team in the RPI rankings. The side is No. 18 in the official NSCAA poll. Regionally, the Spartans are seventh in the NSCAA Great Lakes poll.
The Spartans are (2-2-1) are fourth in the Big Ten standings. MSU leads the Big Ten in goals-against average (0.74), fewest goals allowed (12) and assists per game (2.33) and is tied for first with 35 total assists. The team is No. 2 in total points (87), total shots (249), goals per game (1.73) and total saves (80). MSU is also third in shutouts (8) and fourth with 26 goals on the season.
Forward Tim Kreutz leads the offense and has eight goals and four assists for a team-best 20 points.
The Spartans also possess a solid spine, led by holding midfielder Fatai Alashe, center back Kevin Cope, and goalkeeper Zach Bennett, who has stopped 83 shots and allowed only 14 goals this season (0.81 goals-against average). He also owns eight shutouts.
Most recently, Michigan State was defeated by No. 2 Notre Dame 2-0 on Tuesday (Nov. 5) in East Lansing.
Wed-Sat., Nov. 13-17 -- at Big Ten Tournament (Columbus, Ohio)
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Contact: Scott Kemps (734) 763-4423