MSU downs Eastern Michigan 3-0 for second win of 2021


MSU sophomore defender Zivana Labovic propels the Spartan offensive attack in a 3-0 against Eastern Michigan on Aug. 22, 2021

Luca Melloni, Men's/ Women's Soccer Beat Reporter

EAST LANSING— The Michigan State women’s soccer team earned their second consecutive wire-to-wire victory in a 3-0 affair against the visiting the Eastern Michigan Eagles on Sunday afternoon. Two second-half goals from midfielder Danielle Stephan and defender Abby Gardiner highlighted the versatility of head coach Jeff Hosler’s attack-minded squad as they prepare for the Big Ten conference. 

“Our versatility is key,” Hosler said. “The more unpredictable we can be, the better we’re going to be prepared for our opponents.” 

Forward Ava Cook started her second game at DeMartin Stadium alongside junior Lauren DeBeau. The partnership of the two new transfers up top created problems for the Eagles’ defense early on. 

“It was awesome to get on the board and then progress from there,” DeBeau said. 

The first excellent scoring chance for MSU came from sophomore midfielder Zivana Labovic in the 15th minute where her volleyed shot on goal from the top of the box ricocheted off the fingertips of Eagles’ goalkeeper Chelsea Abbotts. 

MSU defender Zivana Labovic kicks a ball to a teammate during a home contest/ Photo Credit: MSU Athletic Communications

Immediately after, EMU freshman forward Maddie O’Farrell hit the post on a counterattack; O’ Farrell played soccer at Lansing Catholic High School where she won four Capital Area Activities Conference White League championships. 

In the 28th minute, DeBeau opened the scoring with a drilled shot to the top-right corner of the net off an assist from Cook. The shot from outside the box lifted the spirits of the Spartans after a spell of missed chances. 

“For her [DeBeau] to have hit a banger like she did really lifted the team and it brought our energy up at that moment,” Hosler said.

At the half, MSU outshot the Eagles by a 12-4 margin, but only had the lone goal to show for it. 

“We had to be a lot sharper,” Hosler said. “Everyone was focused on getting through [tough] moments instead of making the most of them.”

“Going into the second half, we were better on the press,” he added. 

In the 60th minute, senior forward Gia Wahlberg took a free kick from 23 yards out; her shot on goal leapt over the crossbar by a few inches. In the 2019 season, Wahlberg led the team in scoring with nine goals. 

MSU forward Gia Wahlberg/ Photo Credit: MSU Athletic Communications

Cook returned to the game as a substitute near the 60-minute mark for the Spartans. That change would prove to be monumental, as in the 71st minute, an attacking move started by Cook ended in a goal from midfielder Danielle Stephan, putting the Spartans ahead 2-0. 

Stephan’s left-footed shot went into Abbotts’ goal off a cross from freshman forward Jordyn Wickes. 

Shortly after, in the 74th minute, a penalty kick was given to the Spartans after a foul was committed by Eagles midfielder Sophia D’Ambra. Gardiner stepped up to take the Spartans’ penalty and confidently placed it in the net to stretch the MSU lead to three. 

Redshirt junior goalkeeper Lauren Kozal earned her second consecutive shutout of the season and made three important saves against the Eagles. 

“Give credit to the girls,” Hosler said. “We made a lot of second-half adjustments, and we eliminated the counter opportunities there were in the first half.”

The Spartans will return to action on Thursday, Aug. 26 where they will travel to Mount Pleasant to face Central Michigan in their first away game of the regular season at 7 p.m. They are set to return home on Aug. 30 against Florida Atlantic.