No. 5 MSU Soccer Opens B1G Action Friday

Michigan State men's soccer  (PHOTO:  MSU SID)
Michigan State men's soccer (PHOTO: MSU SID)

EAST LANSING, Mich. - No. 5 Michigan State men's soccer returns home after two-straight road games. MSU improved to 6-0-2 after a win over No. 8 Notre Dame on Monday. Rutgers fell to 1-4-1 after dropping a 2-0 decision to Michigan on Sept. 14.

The Spartans are 4-0-1 in their last five Big Ten openers. Michigan State is the final team in the Big Ten to open conference play.

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Michigan State has been a second-half scoring machine this season. The Spartans have scored five goals in the first half and 14 in the second. Last season, MSU netted 11 in the first and 16 in the final period of regulation.

Rutgers comes into the match with a 1-4-1 record, with its lone win coming against Mount St. Mary's on Aug. 31. The Scarlet Knights are 0-1-0 in the Big Ten as they suffered a 2-0 loss against Michigan on Sept. 14 to open conference play.

The Spartans are undefeated all-time against Rutgers as MSU leads the series, 3-0-1. The Spartans have won the last three meetings between the two schools, with its last win coming in 2017 when Michigan State defeated the Scarlet Knights, 2-1, in Piscataway.

Rutgers is led by junior Jordan Hall, who has three goals and one assist this season. Hall leads the Big Ten in shots (18) and shots per game (3.00).

MSU leads the season series with the Scarlet Knights 3-0-1. In the first meeting of the series, Michigan State tied Rutgers, 0-0, at home in 2014. The next season, the Spartans got off to a fast start and stopped Rutgers in Piscataway, 3-1. In 2016 at DeMartin Stadium, the Spartans dominated the Scarlet Knights 4-0. Last season, a pair of goals from DeJuan Jones guided MSU past Rutgers, 2-1, on the road. This is the second-straight season that Michigan State has started B1G action against Rutgers.

Michigan State has been solid at home over the last few years. The Spartans were 9-0-2 at home in 2016 and 7-1-2 last season. MSU's only loss came during the Big Ten Tournament last season. In 2018, the Spartans are 4-0-1 at home. Michigan State is 17-0-4 during the regular season in the last three years.

This week in the NCAA statistics, Michigan State is 10th in the nation in scoring offense, averaging 2.38 goals per game. Saint Mary's is first in the league in scoring with 3.57 gpg. The Spartans are sixth in the nation in total goals with 19. This season, MSU has scored 19 goals off of 25 assists. Michigan State is also first in the nation in assists with 25.

Junior midfielder Giuseppe Barone is fourth in the nation in total assists with six in eight games. On the defensive side of the ball, senior goalkeeper Jimmy Hague is ninth in the country in shutouts with 3.0.

For the second time this season, freshman forward Farai Mutatu has scored with less than four minutes left in regulation to guide No. 4 Michigan State past No. 8 Notre Dame, 1-0, on Monday night at Alumni Stadium.

With the win, MSU remains undefeated in its first eight games with a 6-0-2 record, while Notre Dame falls to 3-2-1 this season. Both of the Irish's losses have come against Big Ten teams, falling to No. 2 Indiana last week.

Michigan State has now won two-straight against Notre Dame both coming on the road. In 2016, The Spartans came up with another 1-0 win. Overall, MSU improves to 8-17-6 all-time against Notre Dame.

Senior goalkeeper Jimmy Hague has 22 career clean sheets in the Spartan Green and White, which puts him alone in fourth place in career MSU shutouts. He is one shutout shy of tying Avery Steinlage (2008-10) and John Spink (1984, 86-88) for second.

Michigan State is first in the Big Ten in points scored with 60, averaging 8.57 points per game. Indiana is second with 41 for 6.83 ppg. Senior forward DeJuan Jones is also first in goal with five so far this seasons while fellow senior forward Ryan Sierakowski is tied for third with three. Senior forward Hunter Barone is tied for first in the league in game-winning goals with Indiana's Andrew Gutman with two. Senior goalkeeper Jimmy Hague is tied for third in shutouts with three.

For the second-straight season, the Spartans are undefeated through the first eight games. In 2017, MSU was 7-0-1 through the first eight games. This year, the Spartans are 6-0-2. The offense is ahead of track, scoring 19 goals with 25 assists for 63 points. Last season, Michigan State had scored nine goals with 10 assists for 28 points. Through the first eight games in 2017, MSU had allowed only one goal. This year, the Spartans have allowed seven goals.

This season, Michigan State will have three captains in seniors Connor Corrigan, Jimmy Hague and DeJuan Jones.

This week, Indiana is one spot ahead of MSU, standing first in the North Region rankings. Michigan State is second in the region head of Michigan (No. 3) and UIC (No. 4). Maryland holds the fifth spot in the polls.

Michigan State is the only undefeated team in the Big Ten with a 6-0-1 record. No. 2 Indiana, Michigan, Maryland and Penn Stare started conference action with 1-0-0 league records. MSU is the only team to not have played a Big Ten game yet.

No. 7 Michigan State men's soccer team was voted second in the Big Ten Preseason Coaches Poll, as voted on by the B1G coaches on Wednesday. Seniors Jimmy Hague, DeJuan Jones and Ryan Sierakowski were also named to the Big Ten Preseason honors list.

The Spartans finished last season with an overall record of 13-3-4 and a 5-0-3 Big Ten record earning a trip to the Elite Eight. MSU ended the season ranked No. 6 in the United Soccer Coaches poll and was one of three Big Ten teams to finish in the top 10 along with Indiana (No. 2) and Wisconsin (No. 10).

Indiana was picked first in the league after advancing to the NCAA College Cup National Championship last season. The Spartans were picked second after being voted fourth last season. MSU reached the Elite Eight in 2017. Maryland was voted third, followed by Michigan and Wisconsin, respectively. Ohio State and Penn State were tied for sixth, while Northwestern an Rutgers were voted eighth and ninth, respectively.

Junior Giuseppe Barone became the fourth member of the Barone family to don the Green and White last season. He joins current Spartan Hunter as well as former MSU players Mark (2008-11) Domenic (2008-12).

After facing Rutgers, MSU will hit the road to take on Penn State on Wednesday, Sept. 26. The Spartans will then return home to face Wisconsin on Sunday, Sept. 30.

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