Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Michigan State soccer looking for fifth conference win vs. Northwestern

October 19, 2018
Junior defenseman Michael Wetungu (17) looks for a pass during the game against Akron on Oct. 9, 2018 at DeMartin Stadium. The Spartans fell to the Zips, 2-1.
Junior defenseman Michael Wetungu (17) looks for a pass during the game against Akron on Oct. 9, 2018 at DeMartin Stadium. The Spartans fell to the Zips, 2-1. —
Photo by Sylvia Jarrus | The State News

Eighth-ranked Michigan State Soccer, which sits at 10-2-2 (4-1-0 Big Ten), is set to continue conference play against Northwestern (4-7-4, 0-4-2 Big Ten) at 7 p.m. Friday night at DeMartin Soccer Stadium. 

After starting the season undefeated, MSU ceded two of its last four games, including a 1-0 overtime loss in conference play to Wisconsin and a 2-1 loss to Akron, each taking place in East Lansing.

Looking across the pitch, Northwestern currently places second-to-last in the Big Ten. The Wildcats are winless in their last nine games and in conference play, and their struggling offense has produced only two goals against Big Ten opponents this season while allowing eight. 

This trend poses a major challenge to a slow-scoring Northwestern club, as MSU is ranked 2nd in the Big Ten behind Indiana in both assists with 33, and goals with 27.

Players to watch

Michigan State junior midfielder Giuseppe Barone is tied for 1st in the conference with eight assists this season. He has been exceptional in facilitating the efficient Spartans’ attack early on in the matches. 

Breakout freshman forward Farai Mutatu and senior forwards Hunter Barone and Ryan Sierakowski have infused MSU with clutch play as they have each recorded two game-winning goals in 2018.

Northwestern’s lone source of production in a stagnant offense this season has come through midfielder Camden Buescher, who has totaled three goals thus far. 

Prediction

The Spartans’ redshirt Senior goalkeeper Jimmy Hague has been extraordinary this season, recording a 0.70 goals against average, a statistic that presents a huge obstacle for the Wildcat attack.

Even if Northwestern can hang with the Spartans late into the match, the effort would be nullified by the fact that one should expect Michigan State’s strikers to once again perform down the stretch. And MSU should improve to 5-1 in the Big Ten and earn their 11th win of the season.

This match results in an easy MSU victory, improving them to 5-1-0 in the Big Ten.

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