Both Michigan State and Ohio State had their goal scoring opportunities Thursday, but the Spartans capitalized on them when it was most needed.
Right from the start of the game, the Spartans came out with pressure and within the first minute they found the back of the net when senior forward, Paige Wester, hit a shot at redshirt freshman goalkeeper, Megan Geldernick, who mishandled the shot and allowed junior forward, Allyson Krause, to put a foot on it and find the back of the net.
“The goalie didn’t catch it and Tom (Saxton) always says follow through with your runs,” Krause said. “So I was right there to put it back in the net.”
Off a cross from freshman forward, Jamie Cheslik, 15 minutes later, Krause would have another good look at the goal inside the box, but her shot to the far side of the goal hit the post and the Buckeyes cleared the ball.
The Spartans would get a few more good looks at the goal in the first half, but their shots went either into Geldernick’s arms or over the goal.
Ohio State’s best scoring chance in the first half came off a corner kick in the 25th minute, when a headed ball by a Buckeye player forced redshirt senior goalkeeper, Courtney Clem, to punch the ball away at the back post.
“We tried to be a little more relaxed as we have talked about before,” head coach Tom Saxton said. “I mean, I think we surprised ourselves scoring in the first minute there. I think that might have led to a bit of impatience for the next half hour in attack. I think they felt like they could just charge through them and there wasn’t a lot of good passing, it was rushed, and we changed that at halftime. It made a difference for us.”
For the majority of the second half, both teams were creating goal scoring chances, but nothing came of them and then the game began to get chippy.
Due to the increase in physicality, both teams got some calls and that led to a Spartan foul inside the box, which gave the Buckeyes a penalty kick with less than a minute left in the game.
Senior forward, Kayla Varner, stepped up to take the penalty kick for the Buckeyes and she buried her shot into the lower left corner of the goal to tie the game at 1-1.
“You work that hard and you score with 50 seconds left, it’s hard to come back and try and get another goal from that,” Wester said. “You kind of get in the mindset that you are going to go into overtime, but thank God we didn’t.”
Off the restart with 50 seconds left in the game, the Spartans played a long ball forward and put high pressure on the Ohio State defense.
The Buckeyes tried to clear, but the ball fell to Cheslik who dribbled down the sideline and crossed a ball towards the near post, which found the head of Wester who finished the play off with 27 seconds left in the game to give the Spartans the 2-1 win.
“That PK really put a damper on the game, but we scored 50 seconds in at the beginning of the game and we just closed it with seconds left,” Wester said. “It was a nice goal. I was glad not to go into overtime.”
Michigan State will play Penn State this Sunday at 1 p.m. on Senior Day for their final home match of the season.
Brooks Laimbeer is the host of Corner Kick for Impact Sports
Photo: Hannah McEnroe