Michigan State 2015 Team and Recruiting Class Review

School - Michigan State
Conference - Big Ten
Coach - Damon Rensing  (Seventh Season)
Background - Michigan State was 12-5-6 overall last year with a 4-2-2 mark in conference play. The Spartans were awarded the number three seed in the 2014 NCAA Tournament, their highest ever seed, and advanced to the Elite Eight for the second consecutive season and for the eighth time (1962, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 2013, 2014) in the history of the program. Michigan State earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament for the third straight season in 2014 and for the seventeenth time in the history of the program. Jay Chapman was named the 2014 Big Ten Midfielder of the Year and was an All-Big Ten First Team selection. Forward Adam Montague and defender Ryan Keener were 2014 All--Big Ten Second Team selections. Defender Brad Centala and midfielder Ken Krolick were named to the 2014 Big Ten All-Freshman Team. The Spartans were ranked as the number eight team in the country in both the NSCAA and College Soccer News 2014 season ending poll. Michigan State is a program with a ton of momentum. They are one of only two teams in the country to have advanced to the Elite Eight for the past two seasons and have earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament in five out of the six seasons that Damon Rensing has been the Spartan head coach.  
Offense - The Spartans have some big shoes to fill due to the graduation of forwards Adam Montague (5g, 4a) and Tim Kreutz (5g, 4a) and midfielders Jay Chapman (5g, 5a) and Fatai Alashe (2g, 1a). All four were impact players and team leaders who played a key role in the success the program has achieved over the past few seasons. Seniors Kyle Rutz and Jason Stacy (4g, 7a) will likely be among the returning players who Rensing will look to for help in filling the void that their departure has created on the offensive side of the ball. Rutz took a medical redshirt last year but looks to be fully recovered and ready to contribute. Stacy, who played as an outside midfielder last year, will likely move up-top. He is a left-footer who is particularly effective and dangerous out of restarts. Freshmen Ryan Sierakowski who played for the Sockers FC Academy and the Chicago Fire U-18 Academy, Hunter Barone who played for the Crew Academy Wolves, and DeJuan Jones who was named Mr. Soccer of Michigan are all highly regarded forwards who appear to have the speed, size, and athletic ability to compete for playing time right away and could prove to be just what the doctor ordered for the Spartan attack. Junior Dewey Lewis (0g, 6a), who has been a starter for the past two seasons, is among returning midfielders who will be called upon to play a greater role in the offense in 2015. The degree to which Lewis is able to up his productivity will likely have a huge impact on the Spartan's offensive effectiveness. Redshirt sophomore Brian Winterfield (0g, 1a) who played in nineteen games last year with six starts will likely fill the role of holding midfielder. Sophomore Ken Krolicki (2g, 2a) who had an impressive freshman campaign should be in the hunt for a greater role in the midfield in 2015. Sophomore Michael Marcantognini who appeared in thirteen contests last year is among other returning players who look to be in the mix in the midfield. 
Defense - Senior centerback Zach Carroll (5g, 2a) returns to anchor the backline. He will be joined by sophomore Jimmy Fiscus who moves from left back to centerback. Andrew Herr 90G, 1A), who has been a starter for the past two seasons returns at right back. Redshirt junior Jerome Cristobal (0g, 1a) and sophomore Brad Centala who started nine contests last year are among other returning players who should be in the mix in the back. Senior Zach Bennett who has been the starter in goal for the past three seasons returns between the pipes.  

Newcomers - Four Star Recruiting Class 

Coach Rensing stated, "On paper, this is certainly one of our best recruiting classes to date and one of the best in the country. I love the fact that we were able to attract some of the best players from the greater Lansing area, across the state of Michigan and throughout the Midwest."

Hunter Barone - Forward - Grandville, Michigan - East Kentwood High School - All-Conference, All-State. Played with th Crew Academy Wolves and GRCJ. Ranked by College Soccer News as the number 117 player in the class of 2015. 

Connor Corrigan - Defender - Indianapolis, Indiana - Hamilton Southeastern High School - Played with the Indiana Fire Academy. Ranked by College Soccer News as the number 130 player in the class of 2015.   

Robbie Cort - Midfielder - Bloomfield Hills, Michigan - Brother Rice High School - Played for Vardar Academy. Michigan ODP Team member. Regional ODP team. All-State selection. 

DeJuan Jones - Forward - East Lansing, Michigan - East Lansing High School - All-Conference, All-District, All-Region. Lansing State Journal Player of the Year. Named Mr. Soccer of Michigan. Played club with TNT Dynamite. 

Kaden Keller - Defender - St. Louis, Missouri - The Principia Upper School - All-District, All-State, Played with St. Louis Scott Gallagher U-18 Academy. 

Zach Kovan - Goalkeeper - Okemos,Michigan - Okemos High School - 2014 All-State Dream Team. First-Team All-State. Played with the CSA Wolves Academy. Region II ODP Team. 

Luke Menne - Midfielder - Grand Ledge, Michigan - Grand Ledge High School - All-Conference. All-District. Third-Team All-State. Played with Grand Rapids Crew Juniors. 

Ryan Sierakowski - Forward - McHenry, Illinois - McHenry West High School - Played with Sockers FC Academy. Also played with Chicago Fire U-18 Academy. Ranked by College Soccer News as the number 72nd player in he class of 2015. State and Region II ODP team member.  

Prognosis for 2015 - Few teams in the country have enjoyed the success that Michigan State has the past two seasons. The Spartans will enter the 2015 campaign with momentum but some absences to fill that loom large. Jay Chapman, Adam Montague, Tim Kreutz, and Fatai Alashe will be difficult to replace on the offensive side of the ball and center back Ryan Keener on the defensive side. On the other hand the cupboard is far from bare in terms of returning players with experience and the Spartans have added a very promising eight member recruiting class that has the potential to contribute immediately. Defense has been the staple of Michigan State's success over the past few years and should be a team strength again in 2015. Senior goalkeeper Zach Bennett who is the program's all-time shutout leader and senior centerback Zach Carroll have next level potential and are considered by many to be among the best in the country at their positions. Michigan State will be talented in the midfield and up-top but overall young and unproven. Senior Jason Stacy who has big play ability could be a difference maker on the offense side of the ball either as an outside midfielder or up-top should be Spartans move to a 4-3-3.  Junior Dewey Lewis has big game experience and will set the pace for the entire team in the midfield. The bottom line is that Michigan State will be talented but they also have some big holes to plug due to graduation which means there are a lot of unaswered questions heading into the 2015 season. The departed seniors will be missed. However the winning culture and mindset that they played a key role in creating during their tenure in East Lansing under Rensing's direction remains and that is a big plus for the Spartans heading into the 2015 season.   

 

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