Aug. 29, 2007
Michigan State men's soccer head coach Joe Baum said the ingredients were there for the team in 2006. Then, injuries came with Ryan Dick, Kevin Reiman, Karl Trost and John Folino all fighting injuries throughout the year. Not to mention the loss of two-year starting defender Greg Doster before the year even began. By the last weekend of the season, while Ohio State could turn to a well of 16 players, Michigan State had only 14 players ready to go.
In the end, it was that lack of depth that cost the Spartans a shot at the NCAA Tournament after a 10-7-2 season. The season was the Spartans' seventh-straight winning campaign and included one of the biggest upsets in school history - a 1-0 win over No. 3 New Mexico in the second week of the season.
"I really think that we have a nice nucleus returning this fall," Baum said. "We've had a really great recruiting class, plus, last year we redshirted five players, so we have 10 new players heading into the program that can possibly play. I am hoping that this year, we'll have 16 or 17 people that can jump in there and be competitive. That will put us back in a position where we don't have to ask guys to play 90 minutes when they should only be playing 75."
Not only will the team have depth, it will also be experienced with eight starters and 13 letterwinners returning to the pitch at Old College Field.
Senior co-captain Kenzo Webster burst onto the national scene early last season when he scored the game-winning goal against New Mexico in the first round of the MSU/Radisson Fall Classic. He added three goals the next week, one in a 1-0 win over nationally-ranked Virginia Commonwealth and two in a 2-0 win over Butler. In all, Webster recorded seven goals and an assist to lead the Spartans with 15 points. For his efforts, he was named to TopDrawerSoccer.com's fourth team.
Junior Doug DeMartin will enter his third season as a starting striker for the Spartans, having racked up 24 career points on nine goals and six assists. As a freshman, he tied for the team lead with seven goals, including two game-winners. He posted two goals and three assists as a sophomore.
Junior Louis Stephens III will be the team's primary reserve in the attack having scored two goals in 2006, including the game-winner against UC Riverside in overtime. Stephens has three goals and an assist in his career.
Reiman returns for his second season in the Green and White after transferring from national champion Maryland following his sophomore year. A game-changing playmaker as a midfielder, Reiman was riddled with injuries as a junior, starting just 11 games, but still managed to tie for the team lead with four assists.
Moving behind Reiman after two seasons as an attack midfielder is junior Zac Scaffidi. Scaffidi played attack midfield for the Spartans as a sophomore, scoring two game-winning goals, one in overtime against Sacramento State and one against Northwestern, adding two assists. In his career, Scaffidi has three goals and four assists for 10 points.
Both wide midfielders, seniors Ben Pirmann and Dick have started in at least parts of the last two seasons. Pirmann, a three-year starter, tied for the team lead with four assists as a junior, starting 19 games. Pirmann has started 29 games as a Spartan and has racked up nine assists in his career. A fierce competitor, Pirmann has a knack for both drawing a foul and changing field position quickly.
Dick has started 25 games in his career as a wide midfielder - nine as a freshman, nine as a sophomore and seven as a junior before injuries cut last season short. Dick has four career assists.
Behind the starters, Baum said he has a stable of five midfielders that can be used as reserves, including returning letterwinner Trost, redshirt freshman Jeff Ricondo and incoming freshmen Matt Cebula, Nosa Iyoha and Spencer Thompson.
Even though the team lost three-year starter and All-Big Ten honoree Greg Janicki to graduation, the Spartans return the core of the defense that allowed just 0.75 goals per game in 2006.
Senior co-captain Raushawn McKenzie enters his fourth season as a starter for the Spartans at the stopper position vacated by Janicki. In three seasons, McKenzie has appeared in 58 games, starting 51 at right back. A solid presence that can win many 50-50 balls thanks to his 6-1 frame, McKenzie has two goals and three assists in his career.
Junior Josh Rogers will start his second season as sweeper as the 5-11 defender started 18 games in 2006 for the Spartans. Rogers has 29 games of experience in his collegiate career and has become a very valuable part of the backfield.
Redshirt junior David Hertel is slated to start his second season after starting all 19 games and garnering two assists in 2006. A transfer from Kentucky, Hertel can change field position in a flash from the sidelines with his flip throw-ins.
Redshirt senior John Folino played in eight games as a sophomore and started two but will look to take on an increased role this season at right back. He has appeared in 15 career games.
Also fighting for minutes will be sophomore Tim Granaderos, who played in 18 games as a true freshman, along with redshirt freshmen A.W. Stanek and Jake Fullerton and true freshman Kolt Martin.
The biggest question mark for Michigan State will lie in its final line of defense after the loss of three-year starter Pat Tillman to graduation, opening up a battle for the starting goalkeeper job.
Fifth-year senior Chris Austin is the lone Spartan with experience in a collegiate net, having played in nine games, making 12 saves and accumulating a 1.61 goals-against average during his first four seasons along the Red Cedar.
Battling with Austin will be redshirt freshman Avery Steinlage, who led West Michigan Christian to two state titles and helped Spring Lake High School to the regional finals during his prep career; redshirt freshman Joe Gregus, who posted 16 shutouts in his final two seasons at Portage Northern; and true freshman Jeremy Clark, who was a second-team All-State selection in 2006 at Henry Ford II.