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Thursday, September 10, 2009The Lipscomb Bisons will be facing the biggest tests in the history of the program this weekend when they play in the Michigan Invitational.
In addition to host Michigan, the other teams traveling to Ann Arbor for the tournament are Michigan State and Wright State. The Bisons, 2-0-1, will play No. 20-ranked Michigan State, 1-0-1, at 4 p.m. Friday to open the tournament. They will face host Michigan (2-1-0) Sunday afternoon at 1:30 p.m.
“This weekend will be a great barometer for us as to where we are,” said Lipscomb coach Charles Morrow. “Both of their teams have been in the NCAA Tournament the past two years. Both started out the season in the top 25 in the country.
“It is a great opportunity for our players to not only showcase their abilities and see what they can do against teams with this kind of recognition, but it is also a chance for us to get better. Anytime you can play teams that have had the success these two programs have had you are going to get better.”
Morrow pointed out that the main concern is whether or not the Bisons can raise their level of play.
“The question is can we play with them and possibly get a good result this weekend,” said Morrow. “I know the guys are excited. I know we are excited as coaches.”
Morrow was still working on the scouting reports on both teams Wednesday afternoon and Thursday.
“Michigan is a team that is very talented individually,” said Morrow. “We have a very healthy respect for them. At the beginning of the season if you talked to coaches around the country before the season started they would tell you to watch out for Michigan because they are going to be good.
“Michigan State has not played as many games as Michigan. I know that both teams are going to very athletic and physical.”
Michigan State, coming off a 0-0 tie with No. 10-ranked Illinois-Chicago, is led by goalkeeper Avery Steinlage. He set the NCAA record for consecutive shutout minutes in the Illinois-Chicago game. He has not allowed a goal in 998:43 minutes.
The two northern teams will offer a different style of play for the Bisons.
“Their style is generally more direct,” said Morrow. “They will both be more physical battles than we normally see. We saw it when we played Maryland-Baltimore County last year.
“We have players who have played teams all across the country growing up. I feel like we will be able to adapt. Hopefully, we will be able to impose our style on them and get a good result.”
The Bisons opened the season with a 1-1 tie against Berry College. They beat Oral Roberts 1-0 and Marshall 1-0 with goalkeepers Brent McGee and Patrick Walsh each recording a shutout.
This will be the first time the Bisons have faced either Michigan State or Michigan.