No. 5 Michigan State men’s soccer (6-0-2) is set to kick off Big Ten competition against Rutgers (1-4-1) Friday evening. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at DeMartin Soccer Stadium.
The Spartans finished off non-conference play in grand fashion, topping No. 8 Notre Dame, 1-0, Monday evening in South Bend. MSU has fared well in non-conference play thus far, as they have remained undefeated through eight games.
Rutgers has been overmatched in its first six games of the season, particularly on the defensive end, as the Scarlet Knights have been outscored 20-5. They suffered an 8-1 onslaught by the hands of Elon (3-3) to start the month of September.
The lack of defense on Rutgers’ end does not match up well with MSU, who now leads the Big Ten in scoring with 19 goals this season. The Spartan offense has been paced by senior forward DeJuan Jones, who scored his fourth and fifth goals of the season against Oakland earlier in the month, making him tied for the most in the conference.
MSU also leads the nation in assists with 24 on the season. The team has received a big boost in that department thanks to junior midfielder Giuseppe Barone, who ranks second in the Big Ten with six assists on the season.
Players to watch
Freshman forward Farai Mutatu scored his second goal of the season in dramatic fashion Monday night, as he helped lift the Spartans over the Fighting Irish with just under two minutes left in the game. His clutch shot could earn him more playing time against Big Ten opponents.
Senior forward Ryan Sierakowski has scored three times over the Spartans’ past five games, including in their 3-0 victory over Bowling Green and 2-2 draw with Yale. He has been a big part of his team’s increased offensive production as of late.
Rutgers forward Jordan Hall has scored twice over his team’s last three matches, and is tied for fourth in Big Ten scoring with three goals on the season. He has been the lone bright spot on a struggling Rutgers offense.
MSU has been the best offensive team in the Big Ten thus far, according to the numbers, while the Scarlet Knights have been the worst defensive team in the Big Ten, highlighted by their 2.893 goals against average, which ranks sixth-worst in the nation.
All indications are that the Spartans should have no problems against this Rutgers defense. Expect MSU to start off 1-0 in conference play.
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