Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Preview: Michigan State men's soccer to host rival Michigan

October 22, 2018
Sophomore defenseman Patrick Nielson (3) keeps his eyes on the ball during the game against Akron on Oct. 9, 2018 at DeMartin Stadium. The Spartans fell to the Zips, 2-1.
Sophomore defenseman Patrick Nielson (3) keeps his eyes on the ball 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

Rivalry week may be over in East Lansing, but the rivalry games aren't. 

No. 13 Michigan State men's soccer (10-2-3, 4-1-1 Big Ten) completes its regular season home schedule in a top-25 clash against No. 18 Michigan (9-4-1, 3-2-1 Big Ten) Tuesday at DeMartin Soccer Stadium at 8 p.m.

Coming off a scoreless senior night draw against Northwestern, the Spartans look to record a win after losing two and drawing in one of its last five games. 

U-M comes in with similar intentions. Having dropped its last two matches against Notre Dame and Wisconsin, a Wolverines squad gone-cold looks to advance its position in the Big Ten in this crucial late-season matchup.

What To Watch For

This matchup looks to be a battle of MSU's stellar defense against U-M's strong offense. MSU has the slight edge on the defensive end with senior goalkeeper Jimmy Hague having a conference-best goals against average of 0.48. The Wolverines hold the slight advantage in scoring, recording 1.33 goals per contest. The Spartans trail U-M slightly in the scoring department, netting 1.17 goals per game. 

MSU junior midfielder Giuseppe Barone remains second in the Big Ten in total assists this season with eight, behind Indiana's Trevor Swartz. 

U-M forward Jack Hallahan is the conference’ 3rd-leading point-getter, recording 19 this season. Forward Umar Farouk Osman’s four goals in Big Ten play for the Wolverines is tied for second among the conference.

Prediction

Where U-M is superior, MSU is not far behind. The Spartans’ superior defending and goalkeeping will be crucial in what will result in a decisive, low-scoring affair. Expect the match to remain scoreless throughout the majority of the 90 minutes, and even carry over into overtime. The deciding factor will be MSU’s goalkeeping, allowing its solid attack to take over and net the match’s lone goal late. 

The Spartans should win the matchup 1-0 and secure a 2nd place standing in the Big Ten. 

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