Preview: MSU women’s soccer to host Wright State for first exhibition game


The MSU women’s soccer team/ Photo Credit: MSU Athletic Communications

Luca Melloni, Sports Editorial Assistant

EAST LANSING – The Michigan State women’s soccer team returns to DeMartin Stadium this Saturday for an exhibition game against Wright State University. Jeff Hosler will begin his second year as the head coach of the Spartans after the team finished last season in sixth place and reached the conference tournament for the first time since 2011. 

Last season was the start of something special brewing in East Lansing. The Spartans finished with an overall record of 10-5-3 after finishing 1-10-1 the previous two seasons.

A 1-0 loss to Iowa kept MSU from advancing to the second round of the Big Ten tournament in 2021.

This new MSU side will take the pitch in 2022 more ambitious and more determined to get back to the top of collegiate women’s soccer while competing in a challenging Big Ten season. 

The Spartans will move forward without last year’s goal-scoring striker Ava Cook, who was drafted 18th overall to NWSL side Chicago Red Stars. However, Hosler and his coaching staff added depth and star power to their side. 

In the summer, the Spartans brought in former South Carolina University forward Ranya Senhaji as a primary target to replace Cook. Senhaji scored two goals for the Gamecocks and made four NCAA DI tournament appearances as a first- and second-year student. 

As a three-star prospect and an ECNL National Champion in New Jersey, Senhaji featured in two games for the Moroccan national team. She scored a brace on her debut against Mali. 

Now, Senhaji could be another talismanic goalscorer to complement this year’s MSU side. 

Another significant addition to the team was Bria Schrotenboer. She spent her first two years at MSU playing under former head coach Tom Saxton and then transferred to the current No.2 ranked Duke her junior year. 

The Holland, Michigan native returned to MSU in the spring and gives Hosler experience in the backline. Schrotenboer was named to the All-Big Ten Freshman Team in 2019. 

This added depth gives the Spartans numbers to work with throughout the season, but it will be interesting to observe how Hosler rotates the defense. 

The center-backs from last season, graduate students Abby Gardiner and Samantha White, had extraordinary performances alongside goalkeeper Lauren Kozal, and they will be back this fall. 

The Spartans conceded 12 goals and scored 26 of their own. Kozal went on to win the Big Ten women’s soccer goalkeeper of the year award. 

Returning this season will be junior midfielder Zivana Labovic and senior forward Lauren DeBeau, who were center-pieces of last season’s team. Labovic recorded four goals and two assists while DeBeau scored two goals, one of them being a game-winner against Eastern Michigan University. 

This year’s MSU team has 31 women listed on the roster. 10 of the players are incoming freshmen. 

This season, the Spartans have two exhibition games against Wright State and DePaul before opening the season at Bowling Green State University on August 18. 

The Spartans will face a handful of non-conference teams including Cincinnati, Dartmouth and Colorado. During the heat of the Big Ten season, MSU will host Michigan on Oct. 9 and then Indiana four days later on Oct. 13. 

While this will be a packed schedule for the Spartans, they will end the regular season against Rutgers before the start of the conference tournament. 

Kickoff against exhibition opponents Wright State University is scheduled for 4 p.m. at DeMartin Stadium on August 6.