EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State men’s soccer head coach Damon Rensing announced the 2019 schedule on Monday. The schedule will feature 10 regular-season home games at DeMartin Soccer Complex and seven away games.
For the third season, the Spartans will play night games at DeMartin Stadium, with game times to be announced at a later date.
“We are really excited to announce the 2019 schedule. It will be one of the toughest schedules in the country,” Rensing said. “Returning from a College Cup year, teams will be up for us, and we will have to be ready for every game. Of our nine non-conference opponents, all of them had winning records last year. We play opponents from six different conferences. This diversity in or schedule will pose different styles of play and will prepare us for the Big Ten season which is always one of the best conferences in the country.”
For the third-straight season, Michigan State will face six teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament during its 17-game regular-season schedule, including five teams that finished in the NCAA RPI Top 25. MSU will also face five teams that finished in the United Soccer Coaches Top 25, including Maryland (No. 1), Akron (No. 2) and Indiana (No. 3).
The Spartans begin the year with a trio of exhibitions beginning on Aug. 18 at UIC. On Aug. 20, the Spartans will host Butler in its only home exhibition and will travel to Xavier for their final preseason game on Aug. 23.
Michigan State will then officially open the season with four-straight home games, beginning with the home opener on Aug. 30 against SIUE. The game will re-unite former MSU assistant coach Cale Wassermann, who is set to begin his first season at the helm of the Cougars.
“Opening up at home against SIUE will be fun. There is a history going back to former MSU head coach, Joe Baum, serving as a graduate assistant there. It is always a little weird going against a former assistant, especially Cale’s (Wassermann) first DI game as head coach, but once the ball kicks off, it will be just another game. Cale will do a great job at SIUE,” Rensing said.
In another Labor Day battle, the Spartans will face Florida Gulf Coast for the first time on Sept. 2. MSU will finish the homestand against Pac-12 power Washington (Sept. 6) and Cornell out of the Ivy League (Sept. 8).
“Games at DeMartin Stadium are one of the best kept secrets on campus, great facility, great atmosphere and great games for students and families. We have been in the top 25 for attendance the last couple years and hopefully DeMartin and our student group, The Red Cedar Rowdies, will be rockin’ again this year,” Rensing said. “I think it is cool that our fans get to see Big Ten games, regional opponents that we play every year, and see opponents like FGCU, Cornell and Washington.”
Michigan State will hit the road for the first time, traveling to Dartmouth on Sept. 14. The Spartans last faced the Big Green in 2017, as MSU earned the 1-0 win. Michigan State will then return home to take on Western Michigan on Sept. 20 and Notre Dame on Sept. 23. Last season, the Irish completed the year ranked No. 8 in the United Soccer Coaches poll.
The Spartans will not open Big Ten action until Sept. 27 on the road against Rutgers. This is the fourth-straight season that MSU has started conference play against the Scarlet Knights. To open the month of October, MSU will host Penn State on Oct. 1 for the B1G home opener, before traveling to Wisconsin on Oct. 6.
The month of October will prove to be a challenge as the Spartans will face both teams that played for the College Cup in back-to-back games. Michigan State will take on the defending champion Maryland in East Lansing on Oct. 11. MSU will then face national runner-up Akron on the road on Oct. 15. Last season, the Zips stopped the Spartans twice, including in the semifinals of the College Cup.
The Spartans will battle for the Big Bear Trophy once again, facing in-state rival Michigan in Ann Arbor on Oct. 29. Michigan State will conclude the regular season against Indiana on Nov. 3. The Hoosiers also reached the College Cup last season.
“Last year’s College Cup had three of the four teams from the Big Ten, and I actually think the conference will be even tougher from top to bottom in 2019,” Rensing said.
The 2019 Big Ten Tournament will begin on Sunday, Nov. 10 at the top four seeds’ home sites. The semifinals will follow on Friday, Nov. 15 and the championship will be held on Sunday, Nov. 17. The Big Ten semifinal and championship will be played at Grand Park in Westfield, Indiana for the fourth-straight season.
The 2019 NCAA College Cup will be played Dec. 13 and 15 at Wakemed Soccer Park in Cary, North Carolina.
The Spartans ended the historic 2018 season with a 14-5-4 record advancing to their first College Cup in 50 years. Michigan State brings back six starters, including reigning Big Ten Midfielder Year of the Giuseppe Barone and first-team All-Big Ten honoree Patrick Nielsen.
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