No.6 Michigan State opens conference tournament against Minnesota


The Michigan State Spartans celebrate after a goal was scored in their 3-1 victory over Purdue on September 25, 2022. Photo Credit: Ethan Hunter/WDBM

Luca Melloni, Sports Editorial Assistant

EAST LANSING – The No. 6 Michigan State women’s soccer team begins its postseason on Sunday, Oct.30, against Minnesota. The Spartans are on a quest for the Big Ten double after winning the conference title.  

Head coach Jeff Hosler led MSU to its best regular-season finish in program history by winning its first-ever Big Ten title and having a dominant 9-0-1 record in the conference. 

We are going to approach this just like we have each time out during the regular season,” Hosler said. “We have been focused all week on our preparation for Minnesota, which is a really solid side.” 

The Spartans earned a program-record of four individual awards. Hosler won the Big Ten coach of the year award, graduate left back Ruby Diodati won defender of the year, senior Lauren DeBeau won forward of the year and Lauren Kozal won goalkeeper of the year for the second time. 

The Spartans have the best defense in the NCAA with a goals-against average of 0.389. No. 1 UCLA is in second place in goals-against with an average of 0.049. 

“We were fourth last year and were picked sixth in the preseason poll. Now, we’re a top-10 program all of the sudden,” Hosler said. “I give my team so much credit for focusing on the process and getting better every day.” 

The Spartans were unable to get past the quarterfinals last season. They lost 1-0 against Iowa at home. Disappointed with the result last season, Hosler and the team aim to win this time.

“It’s a new year, and this is a different team,” Hosler said.

Sunday will be the first time the Spartans face off against the Golden Gophers this season. Last season, MSU scrapped a 2-1 win over Minnesota with a late 83rd-minute goal by MJ Andrus.

Second-year head coach Erin Chastain led Minnesota to an 8-7-3 record on the season. They finished the season with a 2-2 draw against Illinois. 

“We know we are going to have to execute,” Hosler said. “At the end of the day, big matches are always decided by key moments and details, so we will have to be comfortable living in those situations.” 

Minnesota makes its first tournament appearance since 2018. Like the Spartans, the Golden Gophers rebranded their soccer under a second-year coach that succeeded at their previous program. 

Chastain was the head coach at DePaul University for 14 seasons before taking the Minnesota job in 2021. 

The Golden Gophers’ top goalscorer this season is Gabbie Cesarone, who has six goals and two assists. The Golden Gophers have scored 28 goals and conceded 17 so far. 

On the other hand, DeBeau is tied for first place in the Big Ten with 10 goals. Penn State’s Ally Schlegel and Wisconsin’s Emma Jaskaniec are level with DeBeau. 

Kickoff for the quarterfinal of the Big Ten tournament is scheduled for 4 p.m. on Sunday, Oct.30. The game will be at DeMartin Stadium and will start right after the men’s last conference game.