The Spartans lost for only the second time this season—to the No. 18 Wisconsin Badgers September 30, 2-0.
“I thought it was a good college soccer game against a nationally-ranked team,” said head coach Tom Saxton. “We knew Wisconsin would be a very good side and I thought we played end-to-end with them. It comes down to plays in the box as it always does in our sport, and they made them and we didn’t.”
The Spartans, now (7-2-2), allowed the game’s first goal when Wisconsin midfielder Kinley McNicoll took a shot from the top of the box 16 yards out. MSU goalkeeper Courtney Clem stretched to get a finger on the shot, but the ball deflected off Clem’s hand into the back of the net. It was the only goal of the half.
“We thought that the goal that we gave up was a soft goal,” said Saxton. “We felt that we had the same amount of final-third entrees. We were talking about doing the same stuff we had come off doing and that we were going to get our chances and we did get our chances.”
One of those chances came in the second-half. In the 67th minute, freshman Marisa Oleksiak received a cross 16 yards out from goal. She switched the ball over to her right foot and floated a volley towards the back post, where it hit the top of the crossbar.
Nearly two minutes later on the other end of the field, the Spartans gave up a foul within their penalty box, allowing McNicoll to score on a penalty kick and give the Badgers a 2-0 lead with 20 minutes remaining.
Saxton said the team responded well to the deficit in the second half, and will move on.
“I think they bounced back from it well,” said Saxton. “Obviously, it is really tough to dig out of a two goal hole against a quality side. I think Wisconsin is one of the best three teams in the Big Ten and we had our opportunities today. We’ll take some positives out of it and it is easy to get back together when you got Michigan looming next on the schedule.”
Michigan State hosts No. 13 Michigan on Thursday at 3:00 p.m. The game will be broadcast live from DeMartin Stadium on Big Ten Network.
The loss to Wisconsin was the Spartans second loss in three games. They started out the season with eight straight wins or ties.
Photo: Jonathan Yales
Jonathan Yales is the soccer reporter for Impact Sports