Thursday, December 8, 2022

Preview: MSU men's soccer seeded No. 8 in Big Ten Tourney quarterfinals, to meet No. 1-seed Penn State

November 7, 2021
<p>Two fans sit through the rain at DeMartin Stadium. Michigan State men&#x27;s soccer team defeated Duquesne 1-0 on Sept. 11, 2021 in East Lansing.</p>

Two fans sit through the rain at DeMartin Stadium. Michigan State men's soccer team defeated Duquesne 1-0 on Sept. 11, 2021 in East Lansing.

Photo by Devin Anderson-Torrez | The State News

The Michigan State men's soccer team ended their regular season in a spooky 3-1 Halloween loss against Northwestern, leaving them 6-8-2 overall and 2-4-2 in-conference.

Now, the No. 8 seed is heading to the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals and looks to take on top-seeded Penn State. Kick-off is scheduled for today, Nov. 7, at 4 p.m. in University Park, Pennsylvania. The game will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network.

Spartan soccer

Two Spartans, senior forward Farai Mutatu and senior midfielder Jack Beck, received All-Big Ten First-Team honors, as announced by the conference Friday.

This is the second consecutive season the dynamic duo has been awarded postseason accolades. Last season, they were named to the Second-Team and, in 2018, to the All-Freshman team. Mutatu also received Big Ten Sportsmanship honors.

Together, Beck and Mutatu started in and led the way during all 16 games this season. Mutatu finished the regular season tied for third in the Big Ten in goals scored with 7 and fifth in points per game, averaging 1.06. Beck finished tied for first in assists with seven and second in points with nine (one goal).

Overall, 11 different Spartans have found the back of the net this season. Sophomore midfielder Vedad Kovac scored his first of his collegiate career against Ohio State on Oct. 17, while senior midfielder Michael Miller and redshirt junior defender Will Perkins are tied for second with two goals each.

Freshman goalkeeper Lance McGrane collected his first clean sheet of his collegiate career also against Ohio State and has played some crucial crunch time in between the pipes for the green and white.

This will be the first time the two programs have met in the Big Ten Tournament since the then-No. 15 ranked MSU earned a 2-1 win at home in 2016. They met back on Oct. 1 for a regular season matchup, also at home, where they fell 1-0 after Penn State senior forward Daniel Bloyou shockingly managed to find the back of the net last minute.

The last two seasons, MSU has ended its postseason early with losses to in-state rival Michigan on the road in the quarterfinals. Now, they are looking to reverse the narrative, especially after the last two games of the regular season were also, as one would say, L's.

Nittany Lions soccer

Penn State ended their regular season with a 2-0 shutout against Wisconsin on Oct. 31. This earned them the outright Big Ten regular season title for the first time since 2013, the sixth time in their program history, and the No. 1-seed, leaving them 10-6-1 overall and 6-2-0 in-conference.

The Nittany Lions also had several players earn Big Ten postseason accolades:

  • Sophomore midfielder/forward Peter Mangione was named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year. He was also named to the All-Big Ten First Team, alongside teammate redshirt senior defender Brandon Hackenberg.
  • Senior midfielder Seth Kuhn, junior midfielder Andrew Privett and redshirt senior midfielder Pierre Reedy were named to the All-Big Ten Second-Team.
  • Junior defender Alex Stevenson was named to the Big Ten Sportsmanship list.

Penn State Soccer Head Coach Jeff Cook was also named the Big Ten Coach of the Year. The Nittany Lions are coming out of the 2021 regular season quite decorated, one could say.

Penn State leads the all-time series between the two programs, 24-17-2. The Spartans have won five of the last seven meetings, but those two blemishes have been more than prominent.

The winner of the Penn State/Michigan State matchup will go on to face the winner of the Michigan/Wisconsin matchup in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals on Wednesday. That match will be played on the campus of the higher remaining seed. Kick-off times have not been set in stone.

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