Thursday, October 21, 2021

Preview: Michigan State men's soccer closes homestand with Penn State

October 1, 2021
<p>Redshirt sophomore forward Kellen Landefeld kicks the ball toward the net. Michigan State men&#x27;s soccer team defeated Duquesne 1-0 on Sept. 21, 2021 in East Lansing.</p>

Redshirt sophomore forward Kellen Landefeld kicks the ball toward the net. Michigan State men's soccer team defeated Duquesne 1-0 on Sept. 21, 2021 in East Lansing.

Photo by Devin Anderson-Torrez | The State News

Michigan State men's soccer is scheduled to close out their three-game homestand against Penn State on Friday. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. on Big Ten Plus.

Former Spartan forward DeJuan Jones is said to be making an appearance in the crowd, per Michigan State Head Coach Damon Rensing's Twitter:

Last time for MSU soccer

The Spartans (4-4-1, 0-1-1), are coming off a tough, but small margined 1-0 loss against Indiana last Sunday.

"One of the things that I think is great about being an athlete at a Big Ten school, especially Michigan State, is that all of the sports are striving for excellence," Rensing said. "My players, when they see (those premiere sports like football) doing well, I think it does energize them. I think people are coming out to our games more, so there's a lot of positive vibes and I think it starts with our signature sports, which never hurts."

At a press conference on Tuesday, Rensing said that MSU has the toughest schedule in the Big Ten, ninth toughest in the nation. Two of their losses are now ranked in the United Soccer Coaches Poll, including No. 7 Tulsa and No. 17 Bowling Green, while Akron and Indiana have received 54 and 35 votes respectively.

Senior forward Farai Mutatu carries the Spartans with 11 total points on a team-high of five goals and one assist. Four of his goals were featured in the victories against Notre Dame and Duquesne. He's tied with Penn State's Peter Mangione and Andrew Privett for most points in the league, and again with Mangione for most goals.

Senior midfielder Jack Beck is also ranked in-conference as first in assists, with six total, four in the last five games. Only seven other players, including Beck, have scored at least one goal this season.

Redshirt senior goalkeeper Hunter Morse has held the most time in the green and white goal with 1.33 goals-against average and a 63.6% save average, or 14 saves.

"I think (Michigan State) should be feeling pretty good about how they play," Rensing said. "You're bound to have at least one of those games a year where you dominate and it doesn't come out your way. ... Hopefully we can replicate it and (do better)."

A little about the Nittany Lions

Penn State (5-3-1, 1-0-0) holds the overall series lead with MSU at 23-17-2. The Spartans have won the last five of six meetups, with the only mishap being in 2019 when the Nittany Lions managed a 3-0 victory at DeMartin Stadium.

"They're 2 forwards, there's 3 of them actually, ... are all very good and they're a handful," Rensing said. "They'll keep us on our toes. They're really well organized there, ... and it'll be a great opportunity for us, but it'll be a difficult game."

Last time PSU men's soccer took the field, the Nittany Lions were also topped 1-0, by Princeton. Both MSU and PSU were said to have good control and composure of the first half of their games, but the opponent held up stronger in the end.

Mutatu performed a hat trick against Notre Dame on Sept. 14 that turned the course of the game around, ending in a victory for MSU. This was the first hat trick for the Spartans since Jay Chapman performed one against Indiana on Oct. 28, 2012.

Similarly, Mangione performed a hat trick against Villanova on Sept. 21 to capture a single-game career-high six points and a win. This was the first hat trick for the Nittany Lions since Corey Hertzog performed one against Old Dominion in the 2010 NCAA Tournament.

The pair are going to be a heated rivalry on the field, as they've also both held Big Ten Co-Offensive Player of the Week honors as well this season.

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