Preview: MSU women’s soccer set for home opener against Central Michigan


MSU defender Zivana Labovic winds up for a powerful kick in the Spartans’ 1-0 loss to Wisconsin on Sept. 24, 2021/ Photo Credit: Sarah Smith/WDBM

Luca Melloni, Sports Editorial Assistant

EAST LANSING – The Michigan State women’s soccer team returns to DeMartin Stadium on Thursday, Aug. 25 to host Central Michigan University after a series of road games at Bowling Green and Cincinnati last week. The Spartans earned a 2-0 win over BGSU to open the season but had a goalless stalemate at Gettler Stadium in Cincinnati. 

“Both opponents were really high quality,” head coach Jeff Hosler said. “We had to match physical intensity, effort and be able to negate what they do to set up for attacking set-pieces. I thought we did a good job of that in both matches.” 

Senior forward Lauren DeBeau opened the scoring against BGSU in the 11th minute, while forward Camryn Evans sealed the victory with a second half penalty kick. 

“She (Evans) was really impactful against Bowling Green, especially in the second half,” Hosler said. “She can be a real threat, and was unfortunate not to have scored against Cincinnati.”  

Goalkeeper Lauren Kozal, who was named to the MAC Hermann trophy watchlist last week, kept her first clean sheet of the season on her 50th career appearance for MSU. 

“I love playing here and I’m honored to play with this team,” Kozal said after Wednesday’s practice. “I think it’s important to acknowledge the teams’ accolades as well. None of that would’ve happened without what we accomplished [last season].”

The Spartans left Cochrane Stadium with a win to open their season against last year’s Mid-American Conference champions.

The game against the Bearcats was delayed early on due to inclement weather in Hamilton County. MSU only had two shots on target, but they were able to hold off the Bearcats in regulation to remain undefeated. 

Cincinnati’s best chance came in the 84th minute when Brandi Thomsen’s shot grazed the side of Kozal’s net.  

“If we can find a way to score early, that can be a difference-maker for us,” Hosler said. 

The Spartans move on to a three-game home stretch that includes Central Michigan on Aug. 25, Binghamton on Aug. 28 and Dartmouth Sept. 1.

Last season, CMU (0-2) finished fifth in the MAC with an 9-8-1 overall record. The Chippewas will go against a familiar face in MSU’s DeBeau, who played two seasons in Mount Pleasant before transferring to MSU in 2021. DeBeau made the MAC All-Freshman team in 2019, scoring four goals.

“We’re going to have to capitalize on opportunities,” Hosler said about the CMU game. “You can have a lot of joy if you can score early and open the game up, but if they (CMU) have success defending, it can become frustrating.” 

“We have to have that ability to stay with the game plan and hold ourselves to that standard throughout the match,” Hosler added. 

The Spartans (1-1-0) kickoff against Central Michigan at 7 p.m. at DeMartin Stadium.