EAST LANSING, Mich. – After an NCAA journey that has seen two home games and a pair of upset wins over seeded teams, the Michigan State men’s soccer team makes its first appearance in the NCAA College Cup and NCAA semifinals since 1968. The Spartans will travel to Santa Barbara, California, to face a familiar foe, Akron, on Friday, Dec. 7 at 8 p.m. (ET) at Harder Stadium. MSU is one of three Big Ten teams in the College Cup, as the Spartans are joined by Indiana and Maryland, who play in Friday nights’s other national semifinal.

Michigan State improved to 14-4-4 after a come-from-behind win over James Madison, 2-1, in the Elite Eight at DeMartin Stadium on Dec. 1. Akron reached the College Cup by defeating three-time defending National Champion, Stanford, 3-2, on the road. Akron is 14-6-2 this season and has won eight-straight games.

HOW WE GOT HERE
Before knocking off James Madison in the Elite Eight, the Spartans captured a third-round road win over 13th-seeded Georgetown, 1-0,  on Nov. 25. MSU also defeated UIC in the first round at home on Nov. 15, 2-0 and fourth-seeded Louisville on the road in the second round on Nov. 18.

NCAA TOURNAMENT HISTORY
This is the Spartans’ eighth NCAA appearance under head coach Damon Rensing. MSU has posted an 11-5-3 record in NCAA Tournament games under his guidance. The Spartans have advanced to the Elite Eight in 2013, 2014, 2017 and now 2018. Overall, MSU has reached the NCAA Tournament 20 times with a 29-14-5 record. Last season, MSU hosted a pair of NCAA games with wins over Virginia Tech and Western Michigan, respectively. This was the second-straight season that the Spartans hosted an NCAA Tournament game. In Bloomington in the Elite Eight, Michigan State and Indiana drew 1-1, but the Hoosiers advanced to the College Cup, 3-2, on penalty kicks.

In 2016 in the first round, SIU Edwardsville advanced 9-8 on penalty kicks. The teams battled to a 1-1 tie in double overtime, before the Cougars edged the Spartans in the dramatic penalty kick round.

POWER SURGE
The Spartans ended the regular season scoring only one goal in the final four games, going 0-2-2 during that stretch. MSU’s final two losses will be playing each other in the other national semifinal in Indiana and Maryland.

In the four games in the NCAA Tournament so far, the Spartan offense has picked up with seven goals and nine assists for 23 points, while conceding only two goals. Senior forward Ryan Sierakowski has led the way with three postseason goals and one assist for seven points. Overall, five different Spartans have scored during the run.

THE LEGACY OF BAUM
MSU has not reached the national semifinals since 1968. Former MSU head coach Joe Baum was a goalkeeper on both the 1967 and 1968 NCAA National Champion squads. Baum is second all-time in career GAA (0.68), playing from 1967-68. Current MSU netminder Jimmy Hague is third with a career GAA of 0.70. Baum was the head coach for the Spartans from 1978-2008.

Overall, he owns a career record of 320-228-54. Baum guided the Spartans to the NCAA Tournament four times in his final eight seasons.

SCOUTING AKRON
The Zips earned their trip to the College Cup by knocking off three-time defending national champion Stanford Friday night at Stanford, Calif. Akron opened with a 2-0 lead, with junior forward Marcel Zajac netting a pair of goals in the 15th and 44th minutes. Stanford countered with a goal in the 57th minute and then tied the match in the 68th minute, before freshman midfielder/forward Colin Biros scored the game-winner in the 81st minute.

Akron has a 14-6-2 record, winning its last eight games overall, out-scoring the opposition 19-6 during the streak. The Zips closed out regular-season action with a victory, before three wins in the Mid-American Conference Tournament on the way to the title with a 3-0 victory over Western Michigan in the final for Akron’s seventh-straight and 15th overall MAC Tournament crown. The Zips then opened NCAA Tournament action with a 3-1 win over Rider at home, before a 3-1 win at 16th-seeded Syracuse. Akron then upset number one seed Wake Forest, 1-0, on the road, before the win at Stanford.

The Zips are making their third-straight trip to the College Cup and its sixth trip overall, winning the national title in 2010. Friday’s Spartans-Zips match-up is a battle of two of the 11 teams that have come through the bracket unseeded since the NCAA Tournament field expanded to 48 teams in 2001.

Akron is led by sophomore forward David Egbo with 29 points on 12 goals and five assists, while Zajac is close behind with 28 points on 10 goals and a team-leading eight helpers. Egbo has six game-winning goals, while Zajac has three.

Senior goalkeeper Ben Lundt has a 1.12 goals against average, yielding 23 goals against, while making 3.0 saves per match with a 72.3 save percentage, and posting seven shutouts.

Arkon head coach Jared Embick is in his sixth season leading the Zips, posting a 93-29-13 record, while amassing a 140-49-21 overall record in his 10th season as a head coach.
SPARTANS vs. COLLEGE CUP FIELD
Michigan State has the rare distinction of having played the other three teams in the College Cup, playing Akron once in the regular-season, while also playing fellow Big Ten Conference foe Indiana once in regular-season action, along with playing B1G opponent Maryland twice, once in the regular-season and once in the B1G Tournament.

MSU lost by a goal to both Akron (2-1 on Oct. 9) and Indiana (1-0 OT on Oct. 28), while winning the regular-season meeting at Maryland (2-0 on Oct. 5), before falling in the first round of the B1G Tourney (1-0 OT on Nov. 4).

MSU vs. AKRON SERIES HISTORY
Friday is the 43rd all-time meeting between the Spartans and Zips, with Akron leading the series, 28-12-2. The Spartans are 3-4-1 against the Zips in the last eight meetings, as this season’s Akron win gives the Zips the first two-game win streak by either team in the series since 2009-10.

MSU is 3-0 vs. Akron in the NCAA Tournament. Michigan State beat Akron, 2-0, in the 1966 NCAA First Round in East Lansing, then again the following season, 2-0, in the NCAA Quarterfinals in East Lansing. MSU also topped Akron 1-0, in the 1968 NCAA First Round at Akron, on the Spartans’ march to their last appearance in the College Cup and National Championship in 1968, avenging a regular-season loss to the Zips.

MSU vs. AKRON
Won 12, Lost 28, Tied 2
Home…………………. 8-14-0
Road…………………… 4-14-1
Neutral……………….. 0-0-0
10-20-62…………………W, 6-4 H
10-18-63…………………W, 3-0
10-17-64…………………W, 5-0 H
10-15-65…………………W, 5-2
10-15-66…………………W, 4-1 H
11-19-66…………………..W, 2-0 H
11-25-67…………………W, 3-1 H*
10-18-68…………………L, 1-4
11-23-68…………………W, 1-0 &
10-17-69…………………W, 1-0 H
10-24-70…………………L, 1-3
10-30-71…………………L, 0-1 H
11-4-72…………………..T, 0-0 (OT)
10-11-75…………………L, 0-5 H
10-10-76…………………L, 0-4
10-8-77…………………..L, 1-5 H
10-28-78…………………L, 0-2
10-27-79…………………L, 0-2 H
10-25-80…………………L, 0-4
10-24-81…………………L, 0-2 H
10-23-82…………………L, 1-2
10-22-83…………………L, 0-3 H
10-20-84…………………L, 1-4
10-20-85…………………L, 0-2 H
10-18-86…………………L, 0-1
10-14-87…………………L, 0-1 H
10-14-88…………………L, 0-2
10-15-89…………………L, 1-2 (OT) H
10-16-90…………………L, 2-3
9-10-91…………………..L, 1-4 H
10-7-92…………………..L, 1-2
10-6-93…………………..L, 1-2 (OT) H
11-4-09…………………..L, 1-2
11-3-10…………………..L, 0-1 H
11-2-11…………………..W, 1-0
10-31-12…………………L, 0-1 H
10-23-13…………………T, 0-0
10-7-14…………………..W, 1-0 H
10-21-15…………………L, 1-4
10-11-16…………………W, 2-1 H
9-27-17…………………..L, 1-4
10-9-18…………………..L, 1-2 H

^ – 1966 NCAA First Round (East Lansing)
* – 1967 NCAA Quarterfinals (East Lansing)
& – 1968 NCAA First Round (Akron, Ohio)

LAST TIME VS. THE ZIPS
No. 8 MSU was topped by Akron, 2-1, earlier this season on Oct. 9, despite junior defender Michael Wetungu’s first career goal. The Spartans rallied from an early 1-0 deficit in the ninth minute after a goal by Skye Harter. MSU leveled the match early in the second half on Wetungu’s goal in the 54th minute, but the visiting Zips scored the game-winner in the 82nd minute on a goal by David Egbo.

SPARTANS CAREER VS. AKRON
Six different Spartans have career stats vs. Akron, including five different players scoring points, led by senior forwards DeJuan Jones and Hunter Barone with three points each. Jones netted a goal in 2015 and added an assist in 2018, while Barone scored a goal in 2016 and an assist in 2017. Senior goalkeeper Jimmy Hague has eight career saves against the Zips in three career games.

Giuseppe Barone • 1 Assist = 1 Point
2018 – 1 A

Hunter Barone • 1 Goal, 1 Assist = 3 Points
2016 – 1 G *
2017 – 1 A

Jimmy Hague • 1 Win, 8 Saves
2016 – 4 saves
2017 – 2 saves
2018 – 2 saves

DeJuan Jones • 1 Goal, 1 Assist = 3 Points
2015 – 1 G
2018 – 1 A

Ryan Sierakowski • 1 Goal = 2 Points
2016 – 1 G

Michael Wetungu • 1 Goal = 2 Points
2018 – 1 G

* = game-winner

SPARTANS IN DECEMBER
Friday marks the second-straight season that MSU has been playing in December, and overall it is Michigan State’s 13th game played in the 12th month of the calendar year in school history, posting a 5-3-4 in games played in December.

MSU in December
Won 5, Lost 3, Tied 4
12/3/64 3-2 W Army
12/5/64 0-1 L Navy
12/1/66 2-0 W Akron
12/2/66 3-1 W Temple
12/3/66 2-2 T Long Island ^
12/2/67 0-0 T at St. Louis #
12/5/68 2-0 W Brown
12/7/68 2-2 T Maryland &
12/1/13 1-0 W at Georgetown
12/7/13 1-2 L at Notre Dame
12/6/14 2-3 L Providence
12/1/17 1-1 T (2OT) at Indiana @

^ – Long Island advanced, having most CK
# – MSU and SLU declared co-champions
& – MSU and UMD declared co-champions
@ – IU advanced to College Cup on PKs, 3-2

LOW SCORING FIRST HALVES
A total of 12 Michigan State matches this season were scoreless at halftime, with MSU posting a 6-3-3 record in those 12 matches, with two of the scoreless halftimes remaining 0-0 through regulation and two overtimes (Tulsa on Aug. 26 and Northwestern on Oct. 19), while the Michigan match on Oct. 24 ended 1-1.

The Spartans are 7-0 this season when leading at half, and only trailed at intermission in three matches. Michigan State has a 1-1-1 record when trailing at the break, as the Elite Eight win over James Madison was the Spartans’ first second-half rally for victory, with the lone loss coming to Friday’s foe, Akron, in the regular-season meeting on Oct. 9, when MSU trailed 1-0 at halftime and lost to the Zips, 2-1. The tie came on Sept. 14 at Yale, when the Spartans were behind 1-0 at the break, with the match ending in a 2-2 draw.

OVERTIME
To reach the Sweet 16, the Spartans won their first overtime game of the season. MSU had been 0-3-4 in extra time this season before the 2-1 overtime win against Louisville.

FAMILIAR FACES
Three of the eight teams remaining in the NCAA Tournament are Big Ten teams with No. 2-seeded Indiana and No. 11-seeded Maryland moving on as well. Overall, the Spartans have played four of the Elite Eight teams with a loss to Akron and a win against Notre Dame in the regular season. Overall, MSU is 2-3 against the remaining teams, going 1-1 vs. the Terps and 0-1 vs. the Hoosiers. Maryland will take on No. 3-seeded Kentucky, while No. 2-seeded Indiana will face No. 7-seeded Notre Dame.

BARONE NAMED HERMANN TROPHY SEMIFINALIST
Michigan State junior midfielder Giuseppe Barone was named a semifinalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy.  He is one of 15 semifinalists including four from the Big Ten, along with Indiana’s Trey Muse and Andrew Gutman and Michigan’s Jack Hallahan. Barone is the first Spartan to earn this accolade since fellow midfielder Jay Chapman in 2014. The junior from Kentwood, Michigan was also the first Spartan since Chapman to be named the Big Ten Midfielder of the Year. Barone also garnered first-team All-Big Ten honors. He is second in the league with 10 assists. Barone is second on the team in scoring with three goals and 10 assists for 16 points.

MAKING HISTORY
Friday’s match-up between MSU and Akron features a pair of NCAA history makers, as in Akron’s win over Stanford, the Zips became the 10th team since the NCAA Tournament field expanded to 48 teams in 2001 to reach the College Cup as an unseeded team. With the Spartans’ win over James Madison, they became the 11th. MSU and Akron join UMBC (2014), Charlotte (2011), UMass (2007), UC Santa Barbara (2006-NCAA Champion), SMU (2005), Duke (2004), Santa Clara (2003), Stanford (2002) and Creighton (2002).

SPARTANS IN THE NCAA RANKINGS
Michigan State is ninth in the NCAA in assists with 44.  MSU is also 10th in save percentage (.827) and  20th in total points (114).

Senior goalkeeper Jimmy Hague is 11th in the nation in goals against average (0.66) and fourth in goalkeeper minutes (2061). He is also ninth in shutouts with nine. Junior midfielder Giuseppe Barone is seventh in total assists with 10.

CLIMBING THE CHARTS
With an assist on the game-winning goal against UIC on Nov. 15, junior midfielder Giuseppe Barone is now tied for fifth on the single-season assist list. Andrew Roff (1994) and Jim Galina (1985) are the other two Spartans to reach 10 assist. Tom Kreft is the all-time leader in single-season assists with 15 in 1968.

RAISING THE BAR
With the win against the Dukes in the Elite Eight, Michigan State tied a school record for single-season wins, matching the 2013 squad that posted a 14-6-3 ledger.

OFFENSIVE DEFENDERS
This season, the Spartans have been getting offense from more than just their forwards.  Defenders Patrick Nielsen and Michael Wetungu have both scored two goals this year and both have one game-winning goal.  Fellow defender John Freitag has also added three goals and two game-winning goal. Before losing him to injury, defender Nick Woodruff also added a goal.

POSTSEASON PROS
The Spartans senior class has now made the postseason three out of the last four season, including reaching the Elite Eight last season. Jimmy HagueRyan SierakowskiConnor Corrigan and Hunter Barone have played in four NCAA Tournament games so far in their careers.

CLIMBING THE CHARTS
Senior goalkeeper Jimmy Hague now has 27 career clean sheets in the Spartan Green and White, which now puts alone in second in the Spartan record books, passing Avery Steinlage (2008-10) and John Spink (1984, 86-88). MSU great Zach Bennett (2012-15) is the all-time shutout leader with 35. Hague also has 39 career wins, just behind Bennett who leads MSU with 43 career wins.

MAKING AN IMPACT
This season, the Spartans have had five Spartans earn their first point this season.  Freshman forward Farai Mutatu is fifth in scoring with three goals and two assists  for eight points. Sophomore defender Patrick Nielsen had two goals this season. Freshman midfielder Jack Beck and redshirt-freshman defender Nick Woodruff also scored their first goals of their collegiate careers in 2018. Junior defender Michael Wetungu also captured his first Spartan goal against Akron on Oct. 9.

RYAN’S RISE 
MSU senior forward Ryan Sierakowski is rising up the Michigan State all-time scoring charts. He currently has 82 points in 81 games in a MSU uniform, which is good for tied for 10th all-time. He has 33 goals and 16 assists in four seasons. His 33 goals place him tied for sixth, with Jean Lohri (1960-62).

DEFEND DEMARTIN
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 were 7-3-3 at home. Michigan State is 20-3-6 during the regular season in the last three years.

SUPER SIERAKOWSKI
Senior forward Ryan Sierakowski is looking to become the first Spartan to lead the team in points for four-straight seasons. Sierakowski had 17 points as a freshman, 23 as a sophomore and 21 as a junior. He is currently first on the team in scoring with eight goals and five assists for 21 points. Junior midfielder Giuseppe Barone has three goals and 10 assists for 16 points.

LAST TIME OUT
Michigan State’s men’s soccer team is College Cup bound after the Spartans’ thrilling 2-1 victory over James Madison at a cold, wet, spirited DeMartin Field Saturday night in the Elite Eight.

Senior forward Ryan Sierakowski netted two second-half goals Saturday night as MSU overcame a 1-0 halftime deficit as JMU scored in the 32nd minute. Sierakowski scored in the 72nd minute to level the score and his game-winner came in the 81st minute. Senior midfielder Robbie Cort and freshman forward Farai Mutatu assisted on Sierakowski’s first goal, while a pair of defenders, redshirt-sophomore Patrick Nielsen and senior Connor Corrigan earned the helpers on the second.

O CAPTAIN! MY CAPTAIN!
This season, Michigan State will have three captains in seniors Connor CorriganJimmy Hague and DeJuan Jones.

BARONE BUNCH
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) and Domenic (2008-12).

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