Spartans drop frustrating home contest to Ohio State

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By Lucas Sloan

EAST LANSING, Mich. —  Michigan State women’s soccer lost a frustrating 1-0 contest to the Ohio State Buckeyes on Sunday, finishing out the weekend in wet and rainy conditions at DeMartin Stadium. MSU battled through a tough first half, but an early second-half goal by the Buckeyes was all it took to down the home team.

“We just weren’t good enough today, it’s that simple, we made too many little mistakes,” MSU head coach Tom Saxton said following the game. “When you’re on the second day of a tight weekend like this you have to be smart. Our communication wasn’t good early, it got better in the second half, unfortunately we conceded. We just have to do the little things better.”

The Spartans and Buckeyes played an evenly-matched, very physical first half of soccer resulting in no score through 45 minutes. MSU had only two quality first-half scoring chances when Hannah Jones ripped off a line drive shot at 22:15 and Brittany Tanner collided with Ohio State goaltender Devon Kerr to free up a wide-open net, but MSU was unable to get a shot away. The chippy play escalated further into the half and culminated in a yellow card for OSU’s Izzy Rodriguez when she upended Lydia Franks at the tail end of the half.

Ohio State broke the ice just into the second half when sophomore forward Marissa Birzon scored at 54:12 to give her team a 1-0 lead. Now with a comfortable lead, the road Buckeyes played keep-away, flustering the MSU offense during a desperate time.

The Spartans’ only good second half chance came with 14:26 remaining when a Michelle Herring shot sailed high over the crossbar. In the final moments when it looked like one more Spartan scoring rush was possible, a kicked ball hit a referee at midfield and ricocheted away to seal the contest. It was that kind of day for MSU, and they fell 1-0.

“We switched to a higher press line and actually did a pretty good job for about a ten minute period, Saxton commented on the second half. “We had a lot of unanswered questions in terms of who was ready to play today. There was fatigue involved, but we need to play smart and talk to each other a little bit more.”

A key moment in the second half came with just under 12 minutes remaining when MSU goalkeeper Reilley Ott came up with a huge save on Ohio State’s Sarah Roberts to ensure the deficit remained at one for her team. Saxton recognized his talented keeper and discussed what she brings to the Spartans after the game.

“She’s been solid, Reilley’s done great. The goal that we conceded certainly wasn’t on her. She’s having a good year and we need to keep that going because everybody in the Big Ten has to play good defense first.”

Ohio State outshot the Spartans 10-5 and also held the advantage in corner kicks 3-1. Camryn Evans led MSU with two shots while Kayla Fischer propelled the Buckeyes with four shots and an assist on the lone goal of the game.

“It comes a lot from the defense, we have to connect our passes, we looked wide a lot,” Evans noted when asked how MSU can improve the offense moving forward. “Our wide middles are a big part of our offense, and we look to serve it in and if not then through the middle and direct to the front door and try to turn and shoot.”

The home loss drops Michigan State’s overall record to 5-6-3, while they remain winless in Big Ten play at 0-5-2. Ohio State improves to 7-5-1 on the season and 4-2-1 in conference action. Entering this game the Buckeyes sat in third place in the conference, MSU will now look to get back on track at Iowa this Friday.

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