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Preview: MSU Men's Soccer kicks off Big Ten campaign in New Jersey against Rutgers.

September 14, 2023
<p>Senior goalkeeper Andrew Nicholsen (1) celebrates with the fans after a win against University of Dayton at DeMartin Soccer Complex on Sept. 7, 2023.</p>

Senior goalkeeper Andrew Nicholsen (1) celebrates with the fans after a win against University of Dayton at DeMartin Soccer Complex on Sept. 7, 2023.

Undefeated in five games, the Michigan State head to Piscataway, New Jersey to kick off their Big Ten campaign as they face off against Rutgers with the hopes of extending their unbeaten start to the season.

The Spartans enter this match hot off their win against No. 10 Notre Dame, the programs first road win against a top 10 opponent since 2018.

“It could be really big … We want it to mean something at the end of the year, so if we don’t take care of the next couple of games it won’t mean as much as we want it to mean,” Head Coach Damon Rensing said

Defensive resilience has been a key part to the Spartans impressive form. They have yet to concede a goal in the last 265 minutes of live play, including clean sheets in their previous two games. Thanks to the help of Redshirt Sophomore Goalkeeper Zac Kelly who earned himself Big Ten Defensive Player of the week honors this past week.

“Kelly has been really good, the backline has been really good. But also our forwards defended Notre Dame really well. When you talk about clean sheets, it's not just the backline, and the goalie, although they get a lot of credit. I think it's the entire team from front to back,”  Rensing said.

In their victory against 10th ranked Notre Dame, the game was decided in the 35th minute when Mercyhurst transfer and junior midfielder Sean Kerrigan found the back of the net to give him his second goal of the season in just as many games.

“We will see, but what we do know is Kerrigan is very comfortable when he gets into the attacking third so I think the more times we can get Kerrigan, Stout, Mercer, and Spadafora in those comfortable moments the more goals we’ll score,” Rensing Said.

Historically, State has held Rutgers' number only losing one of their past eight meetings. With an aggregate score of 20-9 in their past eight. Rutgers comes into this match with a record of 2-3-1 and will look to use their recent victory against Columbia as a way to kickstart what has been a slow start to their season.

“They're going to be fired up. It's the Big Ten home opener. They’re going to be ready to go. They’re well coached, and have some good talented players, so I expect a 90 minute fight both physically and mentally,” Rensing said.

State will need to be wary of Rutgers two talisman in graduate midfielder Jackson Temple, and freshman forward Luciano Sanchez who both share the spot of top scorer for the team with two to their name each

Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. this Sunday. Streaming will be available on Big Ten Network.

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