MSU slams Ball State 7-1 to remain undefeated


MSU midfielder Cara Bonshak controls the ball against Penn State/ Photo Credit: MSU Athletic Communications

Tyler Wade, General Assignment Reporter

EAST LANSING— On Sunday afternoon, Michigan State took on the Ball State Cardinals in what was its 2021 home opener. The Spartans, who came into Sunday’s contest with a 4-0 record, had spent those four games in Kent and Athens, Ohio, where they knocked off Kent State, Saint Louis, Northeastern and Ohio and outscored those teams by a lopsided 12-1 margin.

Led by two goals from senior midfielder Cara Bonshak, MSU improved to 5-0 on the season after thoroughly dominating the Cardinals from start to finish en route to a 7-1 win. In total, six different Spartans scored goals and only one of the goals was unassisted.

“It’s funny because we were only on the road for two weeks and four games, but it felt like a lot longer,” head coach Helen Knull said. “They were just as energized today as they have been on the road, but I think they’re just excited to be here in front of home fans and friends.”

Michigan State struck early with a goal only two minutes into the game by Bonshak; freshman midfielder Ellie Rutherford received the assist. The Spartans kept up the intense pressure with another goal in the 13th minute of the game. Rutherford was credited with the goal; she had four total points on the day. After scoring the two early goals, the Spartans cruised for the rest of the first quarter and held that 2-0 lead at the end of one.

“We had a lot of goal scorers today,” Knull said. “We are starting to find more connections between our lines.”

MSU head coach Helen Knull talks to her team during a game/ Photo Credit: MSU Athletic Communications

MSU continued to throttle Ball State by scoring quickly yet again, this time courtesy of a Nienke Bloemsaat goal in the 17th minute, which extended the MSU lead to three.

Shortly after, graduate transfer Maddie Babineau created another high-quality scoring chance and scored her second goal of the season by turning a corner and netting the fourth goal of the game for MSU.

Despite conceding a goal in the waning seconds of the second quarter to Ball State forward Agostina Giuice, the Spartans went into halftime with a comfortable 4-1 advantage.

In the first half, the Spartan defense only allowed four shots and four corner opportunities, clamping down on any offensive momentum that Ball State managed to generate.

MSU midfielder Merel Hanssen/ Photo Credit: MSU Athletic Communications

The second half, much like the first, started with a goal from a Spartan as midfielder Merel Hanssen extended the MSU lead to 5-1, her team-leading fourth goal of the season.

Hanssen, who started in all 16 games for the Spartans a year ago, already has 10 points on the season, one of the better marks in the country.

Two more goals in the second half by sophomore forward Kim Smit and Bonshak pushed the Spartan lead to 7-1, where it would remain. For Smit, it was the first goal of her career; for Bonshak, it was her first time ever scoring two goals in a game.

“We had a lot of good buildup from the backs to the midfielders to the forwards,” Bonshak said, “Everyone really worked their butts off.”

The Spartans will look to remain undefeated when they take on Ohio State at home on Sept. 17 at 3 p.m. MSU has not defeated the Buckeyes since Sept. 24, 2017, in a 2-1 shootout victory. Since then, Ohio State has won four consecutive games over the Spartans.