EAST LANSING, Mich. – While some were preparing for last Friday’s Spartan football game, the MSU women’s soccer team was busy playing No. 21 San Diego State – ending in a 1-1 tie at DeMartin Stadium.
The Spartans and Aztecs played through a humid evening to finish at a 1-1 tie, after two overtime periods.
“It was so humid in the first half and both teams were sluggish,” MSU head coach Tom Saxton said to msuspartans.com. “It looked like we were running in quicksand, but we tried talking to them about encouraging each other and fighting through it. We really had to come together and have strong team spirit and I think that is what carried us through.”
MSU continued this season’s offensive prowess as they outshot the Aztecs 19-7 through 110 minutes of play. Michigan State, who had one of the worst scoring offenses in the NCAA last season, continued to improve on one of last season’s largest weaknesses. In 2012, the Spartans averaged just 1.26 goals per game. They have already scored eight goals in their first three games while allowing only three goals to their opponents. MSU’s offensive improvements are also visible in the number of shots they have taken and allowed, allowing 17 shots while taking 47 through three games.
“We had tons of chances,” Saxon said. “We left a couple out there and we could’ve done better with our chances. We got better and better as the game went on.”
In Friday’s game, San Diego State scored first with a goal from Haley Locker in the 24th-minute. The junior forward took a left-footed shot from the top of the box and placed the ball into the top left corner of the goal, over the outstretched glove of Spartan goaltender, Courtney Clem.
“We had a game plan and they played it to a tee,” Saxton said to msuspartans.com. “San Diego State didn’t break us down too much. They got us a couple of times on long counter attacks; that’s how they scored their goal.”
Shortly before the halftime break, MSU’s Kirsten Evans scored her first goal as a Spartan, tying the game at 1-1. In the 44th-minute the redshirt sophomore took full advantage of the Aztec goalie colliding with a fellow Spartan and losing control of the ball. The ball rolled directly in front of Evans with an empty net ahead with goalie Melanie Vaughn out of position and on the ground. Evans took her opportunity and placed the ball into the empty net to tie the game before the half.
In the second half neither team could break their opponent’s defense, and the game was sent to overtime tied 1-1. Michigan State fashioned numerous chances in overtime, but could not get past the SDSU defense.
“Normally a team like SDSU will pass teams to death, and we just kind of played them soft. We let them play back and forth, but they didn’t come through us at all. I thought we did an outstanding job with that. San Diego State is a very good team. I hope this helps them gain confidence, because we played a top-25 team and hung with them and probably had our chances to win it,” Saxton said to msuspartans.com.
The Spartans will be back in action Thursday, Sept. 5 at 5 p.m. against Oakland (1-4) at DeMartin Stadium.
Jonathan Yales is the host of Corner Kick for Impact Sports.
Photo: Jonathan Yales