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 Wednesday afternoon, they will see a lot of familiar faces on the opposing team.
Several players from MSU and WMU played together over the summer for Lansing United in its inaugural season in the Midwest Region National Premier Soccer League, in which they won the Great Lakes West Conference championship and finished with an 8-4-2 record.
Lansing United’s players from MSU included junior goalkeeper Zach Bennett, senior defender Ryan Keener, senior forward Tim Kreutz and junior midfielder Jason Stacy.
Lansing United’s players from Western Michigan included sophomore midfielder Matheau Rogers, junior midfielder Greg Timmer and sophomore defender Hunter Vandenboom.
“It helps and hurts — we know them, they know us,” Bennett said. “It gives motivation to both sides, both sides want to win, it’s an (in-state) matchup ... it will be a little weird seeing some of the guys on the other side of the field in different uniforms then your own.”
With MSU and Western Michigan being in-state rivals, several players are already familiar with each other, having spent time playing against each other before college.
“That’s the fun of in-state rivals, (there are) a lot of guys we’ve played growing up,” Keener said. “(There are) a lot of guys we’ve seen around and you’re familiar with everyone — that brings a little extra competitiveness to the game.”
There is also former MSU player junior midfielder Sean Conerty, who transferred to WMU after two seasons with the Spartans. Conerty is thriving with his new team and currently is in second place in the NCAA for total assists on the season with eight assists thus far.
While at MSU, Conerty was also relatively successful. In 2012, he started in seven games and played in 18, finishing the season with two goals, three assists, and seven points. In 2013, Conerty started in 18 games and appeared in all 23 of the games that season, finishing the season with three goals, three assists and nine points.
“I have a lot of respect for Sean Conerty, he’s a nice kid and a good player,” head coach Damon Rensing said. “Obviously Western has some good players, they’re on a roll here (losing only) one game in their last (eight).”