As the mens and womens soccer teams enter the final stretch of Big Ten play this weekend, both teams have the opportunity to climb over the .500 mark in the conference.
The womens team will face Northwestern at 4 p.m. today and take on in-state rivals Michigan at 1 p.m. Sunday at Old College Field. The mens team will travel to Ohio State to play at 2:30 p.m. Sunday.
The women (7-2-2 overall, 2-2-1 Big Ten) will play their final five conference games at home, while the men (5-5, 1-1) play three out of four remaining Big Ten games on the road.
MSU womens head coach Tom Saxton said the rest of his teams Big Ten schedule is an advantage.
We are in the middle of the pack in the Big Ten and kind of at a crossroads, Saxton said. I think the fact that we have the remainder of our Big Ten schedule at home is something to be confident about and build on.
Saxton fears his team may overlook todays game because of the added anxieties Sundays U-M game brings.
The biggest thing Im looking at going into this weekend is having the team focus on Northwestern, Saxton said.
I think some of the in-state players could look past Northwestern in their anticipation for Michigan because its always a big pride game.
MSU co-captain and senior midfielder Gina Dawson said that even though playing U-M has added excitement, its just as important as any other Big Ten game.
There is always the Michigan rivalry, and thats always an exciting game, but we dont really like to look at those (games) until they come, Dawson said. Basically there is some sort of rivalry with every Big Ten team.
The mens team enters this weekend after being defeated 1-0 against Oakland on Wednesday.
MSU mens head coach Joe Baum said the team may have difficulty improving its record above .500 because the Buckeyes are a tough opponent.
We dont want to get into a game with Ohio State that is like a track meet flying up and down, Baum said. We just want to control the ball offensively and kind of turn it into a half-field soccer game (rather) than a full-field race.