OSU Heads to Michigan for First Road Trip of 2013

Photo By: Dave Nishitani/Oregon State Athletics   09-05-2013

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LOOKING AHEAD: Oregon State (2-0-0 overall, 0-0-0 Pac-12) will hit the road for the first time in 2013 this week for matches against Michigan State (1-0-0 overall, 0-0-0 Big Ten) and Oakland (0-1-1 overall, 0-0-0 Horizon League). The Beavers will face the Spartans Friday at 2 p.m. PT, before taking on the Golden Grizzlies Sunday at 9 a.m. PT.

You can find live stats links for both games on the men’s soccer schedule page of osubeavers.com. Additionally, Sunday’s game will be streamed live via the Horizon League Network. You can also follow Oregon State men’s soccer and head coach Steve Simmons on twitter at @OSUBeavers_MSOC and @CoachSimmo for Oregon State men’s soccer updates.

The Beavers lost their only ever meeting against the Spartans, falling 1-0 in 2007, in a game held in East Lansing, Mich.

The Beavers have also never defeated Oakland in two meetings with the Golden Grizzlies. Oregon State faced Oakland in back-to-back seasons in 2007 and 2008, falling 1-0 on both occassions.

The Spartans are coming off a 4-0 win in their season-opener against Western Michigan last Sunday. Michigan State is ranked No. 21 in the Soccer America Poll, and is receiving votes in the NSCAA Poll and the Top Drawer Soccer Rankings. The Spartans finished last season 12-10-1, and won the Big Ten Tournament, beating Michigan in the final 2-1 in overtime. Michigan State beat Cleveland State in the first round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament, before falling to Notre Dame in the second round. Dewey Lewis recorded one goal and one assist against Western Michigan, while Adam Montague, Kevin Cope and Sean Conerty tallied a goal apiece. The Broncos mustered just five shots in the contest, none of which were on goal. The Spartans are coached by Damon Rensing, who is in his fifth season as Michigan State’s skipper. Rensing has amassed a record of 44-33-9 during his tenure as Spartan head coach.

The Golden Grizzlies opened their 2013 season with a 2-2 tie against Pittsburgh and a 1-0 loss to Duquesne. Oakland finished last season with a record of 11-7-1, winning the Summit League regular season title in its final season as a member of the conference. The Golden Grizzlies ultimately lost to Western Illinois in the Summit League final. Joey Tinnion and Sean Magee are responsible for the two Oakland goals so far this season. Oakland is coached by Eric Pogue, who is in his fifth year with the Golden Grizzlies. Pogue has a record of 33-36-9 during his tenure with Oakland.

The Beavers held a pair of shutouts to open the regular season, keeping both Cleveland State and UC Davis scoreless at Paul Lorenz Field. The occasion marked the 20th time in Oregon State history that the Beavers have held back-to-back clean sheets, and the first time the OSU soccer team has accomplished the feat since it tied Stanford 0-0 and beat Washington 1-0 in 2008. The last time the Beavers produced two-straight shutouts in winning efforts came in 2006, when Oregon State beat UNLV and UC Davis, both by the score of 3-0. Prior to this year, the Beavers had not held back-to-back shutouts to open the season since they beat Seattle U 5-0 and Willamette 1-0 on Sept. 7 and 8, 1991. Overall, Oregon State has put up three consecutive clean sheets on five occasions, but has never done it to open the season.

The Beavers’ season-opening wins over Cleveland State and UC Davis earned Oregon State a first-place finish in the University of Portland Nike Invitational, as the only team to come away with two victories in the event. In addition to the team prize, the Oregon State squad earned a trio of individual honors. Sophomore goalkeeper Matt Bersano was named the tournament’s Outstanding Defensive Player, after recording 14 saves over the course of the two matches. Junior Khiry Shelton and senior Josh Smith earned Co-Outstanding Offensive Player honors. Shelton recorded one goal and one assist over the weekend, while Smith scored his first career goal in Oregon State’s win over Cleveland State.

All five of the Beavers’ goals through the first two contests have come in the second half, and three of the five goals have come in the final 11 minutes of regulation. Oregon State’s earliest goal this season was senior Alex Eckerson’s 54th minute strike against UC Davis. Freshman Ole Sandnes has recorded the Beaver’s latest goal so far, tallying a score in the 90th minute in the season-opener against Cleveland State.

A few Beaver newcomers have already made their marks early on this season. Freshman Ole Sandnes recorded a goal and an assist in his collegiate debut against Cleveland State, and has made two starts through the first week of play. Senior transfer Borce Atanasov tallied an assist in the season opener and drew a penalty after being dragged down inside the 18-yard box against UC Davis. Freshman Matt Arbogast also had an assist over the weekend, while classmate Devonte Small made two starts and fellow freshman Brendan Woodfull made one.

Sophomore goalkeeper Matt Bersano has made a strong start to the 2013 season, after taking hold of the starting goalie spot as a redshirt-freshman last year. Bersano tallied 14 saves over the weekend, including a diving effort that preserved the then 1-0 lead against UC Davis. The Oregon State net-minder currently leads the Pac-12 Conference in saves, after finishing atop the league with 79 saves last season. Bersano is also already half way to his 2012 total of four clean sheets.

Not only has the Beaver back-line held its opponent’s scoreless over the first two games of the season, it has found its way onto the scoresheet as well. Oregon State defenders have racked up three goals through the opening week of the season. Senior Josh Smith was the first Beaver to find the net this year, scoring a header after entering the game against Cleveland State at right-back. His goal was followed up by junior centerback Will Seymore’s 50-yard free kick that found its way into the net. Senior Alex Eckerson capped off the back-line scoring with a curling shot from outside the box that gave the Beavers a 1-0 lead over UC Davis.

Oregon State is currently one of four Pac-12 teams that remain undefeated after the first week of action. No. 10/4 California and No. 19/25 Washington both also hold records of 2-0-0, while No. 6/6 UCLA is 1-0-1. The Beavers currently lead the conference in goal differential at +5. Individually, Khiry Shelton is tied for the conference lead in shots with six, and is tied with teammate Ole Sandnes for fifth in the league with three points through the first two games.

Former Oregon State soccer players Ryan Johnson, Robbie Findley, Alan Gordon, Danny Mwanga and Emery Welshman are all currently on Major League Soccer rosters. Johnson has tallied eight goals in 25 appearances for the Portland Timbers this season, and will compete as a member of the Jamaican National Team this week in their CONCACAF World Cup Qualifiers against Panama (Friday) and Costa Rica (Tuesday). Findley has recorded six goals in 20 appearances for Real Salt Lake, while Gordon has netted four goals in 17 appearances for the San Jose Earthquakes. Mwanga has yet to find the net for the Colorado Rapids in MLS play, but has made 12 appearances this season. Welshman has made one appearance for the Toronto FC first-team in 2013 after being selected 16th overall in last season’s MLS SuperDraft.