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With four conference games left, men's soccer prepares for final stretch of Big Ten season

October 13, 2014
<p>Junior midfielder Jay Chapman heads the ball away from Wisconsin midfielder Drew Conner Oct. 11, 2014, during a game against Wisconsin at DeMartin Soccer Stadium at Old College Field. The Spartans defeated the Badgers, 2-1. Erin Hampton/The State News</p>

Junior midfielder Jay Chapman heads the ball away from Wisconsin midfielder Drew Conner Oct. 11, 2014, during a game against Wisconsin at DeMartin Soccer Stadium at Old College Field. The Spartans defeated the Badgers, 2-1. Erin Hampton/The State News

Photo by Erin Hampton | The State News

As the men’s soccer team (7-2-2 overall , 2-1-1 Big Ten ) prepares to take on the Western Michigan Broncos (6-3-3 overall, 0-0-1 MAC) on Oct. 15 , the team can rest easy for a day having won a key game against the Wisconsin Badgers (2-8-1 overall , 0-4-0 Big Ten ) 2-1 on Saturday .

With only four games remaining in Big Ten play, every game is key if the Spartans hope to win the Big Ten championship. Three of the teams’ four remaining Big Ten opponents are ranked in the top 16 of the NCAA Men’s Soccer RPI rankings.

MSU’s remaining four games are No. 11-ranked Penn State (10-0-1 overall , 4-0-0 Big Ten ) on Oct. 18 , No. 16-ranked Northwestern (6-1-4 overall , 1-1-2 Big Ten ) on Oct. 26 , Michigan (4-5-2 overall , 2-1-2 Big Ten ) on Nov. 2 and No. 1-ranked Indiana (8-1-3 overall, 2-1-1 Big Ten) on Nov. 5.

With the team’s tougher conference games on the horizon, the importance of getting the win against Wisconsin at home was paramount.

The team also has a big showdown looming with the No. 6-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish (6-3-2 overall , 3-1-1 ACC ) on Oct. 29 , The team responsible for eliminating MSU from the NCAA tournament in the last two seasons.

The game against the Broncos on Wednesday will be the Spartans’ third game in just nine days. The team will have to call upon its depth to step up in a big way.

“(The) depth is going to have to keep coming in — it’s some young depth, but they’ll help us, and we’ll be all right,” head coach Damon Rensing said.

Junior goalkeeper Zach Bennett implored the team to “put a full 90 together” in Wednesday’s game against Western.

“(We’ll) come out on Monday and Tuesday and try to figure out what we can do better to put a full 90-minute game together,” Bennett said. “I think we have still yet to put a full 90 together, and I think that’s something the team is really searching for.”

The strength of the team is unquestionably its defense, but it will need its offense to keep up the recent success if the Spartans hope to go far this season. After only scoring multiple goals in one game through the first eight games, MSU has scored multiple goals in two of the last three games, totaling five goals in the three-game span.

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