The Michigan State Spartans men’s soccer team was picked to finish the season fifth in the preseason coaches poll released this afternoon by the Big Ten office. Three Spartans were also named to the 2021 Big Ten men’s soccer players to watch list.
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The Spartans are picked to finish behind Indiana, Penn State, Michigan and Maryland, respectively. The Hoosiers won the conference title last season and the conference tournament. IU advanced all the way to the national championship game as well before falling to Marshall. Michigan State went 4-7 last season in an abridged and delayed season that saw a conference-only slate. MSU ended the season on a two-game win streak, but fell to Michigan in the opening round of the 2020-2021 Big Ten Conference Tournament.
The Spartans made it to the NCAA Tournament College Cup in 2018, which was also the team’s last NCAA Tournament appearance. Michigan State last won the conference tournament in 2012, and is tied with Maryland, Ohio State and Penn State for second-most conference tournament titles (three). Those titles came in 2004, 2008 and 2012. Indiana leads the league with 15 titles.
Penn State leads the league in runner-up performances (10), Indiana is second (five) and Michigan is third (four), while Michigan State is tied with Ohio State and Wisconsin (three each).
As for the 2021 Big Ten men’s soccer players to watch list, seniors Michael Miller (midfielder), Hunter Morse (goalkeeper) and Farai Mutatu (forward) were all named to the list.
Miller is a native of Belleville, Michigan. He has played in 56 games at MSU as a midfielder, earning 41 starts. He had two assists for two points last season.
Morse is a native of Belleville, Michigan as well. He enters his third season in goal for Michigan state and has started in 27 games. He has three career shutouts and has a career goals against average of 0.95.
Mutatu is a forward from Haslett, Michigan and earned second-team All-Big Ten honors this past season despite battling injuries for much of the year. He scored one goal last year.
The Spartans open the 2021 season against Cleveland State in a home matchup this Thursday, Aug. 26 at 7:00 p.m. Michigan State went 3-0 in the preseason exhibition games, after besting Purdue Fort Wayne 1-0 on Saturday, Aug. 21.