The MSU men’s soccer team gets the 2013 campaign underway against Western Michigan at 2 p.m. Sunday at DeMartin Stadium at Old College Field.
The Spartans finished the preseason with a 0-0 draw against Butler and a 2-1 loss to No. 4 North Carolina. This will be the first time MSU will play in the friendly confines of DeMartin Stadium this season.
The Green and White intrasquad scrimmage, which would have been the first time the freshman saw the field, was canceled Thursday eveningbecause of inclement weather.
In Western’s two exhibition games, they defeated Saginaw Valley State, 1-0, before falling to Western Illinois, 3-1.
Despite the lack of time on the field at DeMartin Stadium, men’s soccer head coach Damon Rensing is confident the team will be ready to go when the whistle blows on the new season.
“We’ve done some things well this preseason and don’t have a lot of results to show for it, but I like where we’re at,” Rensing said. “There are no exhibitions now — every game counts.”
Last season, MSU didn’t take on the Broncos until the end of September, coming away with the 2-1 win powered by a goal and assist from then-sophomore forward Tim Kreutz.
Rensing has made it clear he wants the Spartans to be the best team in the state, and this is the first of four legs of that competition this season.
“I just have a lot of pride about the state of Michigan,” he said. “Before you can talk about the national scene, we have to be the best program in the state. We want to represent as best we can.”
Senior defender Kevin Cope will be relied on to hold down the back line of the Spartans this year and said the first thought that comes to mind when going up against a team with Michigan ties is bragging rights.
“It always helps to beat those teams,” Cope said. “Western has guys that we played growing up and maybe went to the same high school or plays at the same club, so it’s exciting to play against them.”
Dominating the Mitten State also helps with recruiting, and Cope said even after he’s gone he can still help the program.
Dewey Lewis is one of five freshmen on the MSU roster this season. When he takes the field for the first time in his Spartan career Sunday afternoon, one of the faces on the opposing sideline will be familiar to him.
Cam Jensen is a sophomore defender for the Broncos, and a former teammate of Lewis’ at Rockford High School.
Lewis said the chance to go up against a former high school teammate will make his debut even more sweet, but there’s still a learning curve between levels of the sport.
“I’ve played against him in club too, so it’ll be nice to go against him again and see how we stack up,” Lewis said. “The guys are a lot faster and bigger, so you just need to be a lot more confident in yourself and be confident with your teammates.”
Cope, who is ranked a No. 4 player in the Big Ten by topdrawersoccer.com, will spend another season next to senior defender senior Ryan Thelen, who Rensing said is another key to the Spartans’ depth.
He said a scrimmage on the pitch before the game would be nice, but it’s always feels good to sink his boots into the untouched grass of DeMartin.
“The excitement level increases a little bit being the first time to step on that field,” Cope said. “The grounds crew did a great job this summer redoing it. We’re really excited to get out there and get in front of a home crowd, and excited to be starting with Western.”
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