Spartans set to begin 2018 campaign

The countdown to the 2018 MCLA season ended nearly three weeks ago. However, that clock had to keep ticking for Michigan State. Tomorrow, the wait will finally come to an end as the Spartans take on No. 17 University of Minnesota to begin their campaign.

MSU finished 2017 with an 11-5 record. In their final contest of the year, the bottom-seeded Spartans fell to top-ranked Brigham Young in the first round of the MCLA Tournament. Finding themselves down 9-1 at halftime in that game, MSU made a late push that left the final score 10-8. Head coach Cam Holding says it is that last game that is setting the tempo for this new season.

“I have been ready to play this Saturday since we lost to BYU last May,” Holding said. “As a team we are going to approach every single game the exact same and we understand that we must earn each win.”

In his third year at the helm, Holding is excited to finally have multiple classes under his belt buying into the program.

“We have had the opportunity to really start coming together as a group and as a program,” Holding said. “I think that our guys are all hungry to achieve team goals and that starts this weekend.”

For defensive coordinator DJ Lubs, this weekend marks his first coaching stint as a member of the Spartans’ coaching staff. He says he is used to season openers as both a coach and a player and that they bring a lot of emotion.

“Coming out of the preseason the intensity has been high,” Lubs said. “I’m looking forward to making a statement and seeing how we deal with playing a tough road schedule early.”

Michigan State opens its season against Minnesota for the second consecutive year. The Golden Gophers proved they were a tough matchup in their first year in the CCLA last year falling by only one goal, 10-9, to the Spartans. After an early exit in the CCLA tournament, Minnesota enters 2018 with a chip on their shoulder.

The Spartans face-off Sunday against Minnesota-Duluth for the second game of their road trip. These two programs haven’t met since 2014 when Michigan State came out on top 9-5. During their time apart, both rosters have gone through a complete changing of the guard with graduating classes. Consequently, it will be a brand new matchup for every player on both teams.

“Minnesota was a tough game last year and UMD is a good program,” Lubs said. “It’ll be a great first test to open the season.”

With only two home games in 2018, Michigan State will have to work through its road woes early. During Holding’s tenure, the Spartans have struggled outside the state of Michigan in the regular season, going 2-7. Nonetheless, he thinks the group this year is ready to turn that stat around.

“We have put in the preseason work and now it’s a matter of doing all the little things to prepare ourselves for each game,” Holding said. “Minnesota is going to be ready to battle after we edged them last season, and the next day we will be playing a tough Minnesota-Duluth who is going to be coming in ready to play.”

“Both games are going to be incredibly challenging, but will give us a great idea of where we are at so far this season. All in all just excited to get out there and do what we love.”