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Preview: Michigan State men's soccer opens Big Ten campaign at Wisconsin

September 17, 2021
<p>Sophomore midfielder Jack Zugay makes a move on the ball during the Spartans&#x27; 2-1 loss to Akron on Aug. 30, 2021.</p>

Sophomore midfielder Jack Zugay makes a move on the ball during the Spartans' 2-1 loss to Akron on Aug. 30, 2021.

Big Ten play is on the clock and Michigan State men's soccer is looking to open its campaign with a win against Wisconsin tonight at 8:30 p.m. on the road.

The Spartans have been slowly making their way home from the West. They got stomped at Tulsa 5-1 on Saturday, but managed to swing back around with a dramatic 4-3 save at Notre Dame on Tuesday.

“It was a total team effort, I was really proud of the guys,” Michigan State Head Coach Damon Rensing said. “We’ve been giving up goals, but we didn’t in the second half (against Notre Dame).”

MSU is 3-3-0 overall this season, 6-1-1 in their last eight conference openers, with several players deserving of recognition.

Senior forward Farai Mutatu scored three of four goals for the Spartans against the Fighting Irish, earning a hat trick for the first time since Jay Chapman did the same in 2012 against Indiana.

Mutatu has been named one of four captains, alongside fellow seniors Jack Beck, Michael Miller and Will Perkins.

“Not only do they play great soccer, but they show the heart, what it takes to be a Spartan,” Rensing said.

Beck also contributed to the win at the University of North Dakota Tuesday.

About the opponent

Wisconsin is coming off its most successful week of the season, marking back-to-back wins against Butler and in-state rival Marquette. This is the first time the program has collected a pair of consecutive wins since 2018.

The Badgers lead against the Spartans in the all-time series 23-13-7. The last time they met was in March, where MSU ran Wisconsin into the ground 4-1, to round out the end of their COVID-19 season.

Sophomore goalie Carter Abbott keeps Wisconsin's opponents coming up empty-handed. His save percentage leads the Big Ten at 87.5%. He's also second in goals against with an average of 40.7% and shutouts per game at even 40%. Abbott has not allowed a goal in the last two and a half games.

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