Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

PREVIEW: Michigan State women’s soccer set to face Harvard in second weekend of NCAA Tournament

Jack Moreland
MSU freshman forward/midfielder Bella Najera celebrates with Spartan fans after scoring two goals in a win against Ohio in the NCAA tournament on Friday, November 10, 2023 at DeMartin Stadium.

EAST LANSING – After an unprecedented season a year ago, the Michigan State women’s soccer team has matched their tournament run from their previous campaign, only this season, the Spartans have their eyes set on making a deeper run in the NCAA tournament, as they get set to face the four-seeded Harvard Crimson on Thursday evening.

Last season, the fourth-seeded Spartans won their first-round match versus Milwaukee, then fell to fifth-seeded TCU in the second round.

The fifth-seeded Spartans come into this second-round match with a 13-4-3 (7-1-2) record after their dominant first-round victory over the Ohio Bobcats on Nov. 10, 3-0. MSU had 25 total shots in the match, compared to Ohio’s four. Creating shots and finding open looks is something that the Spartans will look to carry over into their match against fourth-seeded Harvard.

Freshman Bella Najera led the attack for Michigan State against Ohio with four shots on goal and netting two goals in the win. While most freshmen come into Power Five soccer wide-eyed and timid, Najera has taken a front-seat role and continues to lead this team on the field.

Senior midfielder Justina Gaynor was another big contributor, recording four shots and netting a goal of her own. Four Spartans tallied four shots in the previous match, and if Michigan State can continue to spread the ball around and get multiple players getting good looks, MSU will make it hard for Harvard to keep up.

Looking at the opponent, the Harvard Crimson come into the matchup at 13-3-2 (5-1-1), after defeating Maine, 3-0, in the first round. The Crimson won the first-ever Ivy League Tournament on Nov. 5, defeating Colombia 3-0, and now have the hot hand, riding a five-match winning streak into their upcoming contest against MSU.

Harvard dominated just as Michigan State did in their opening round match against Maine, as the Crimson outshot Maine 19-3 with two players getting four shots each and three different players netting a goal. Junior midfielder Josefine Hasbo leads Harvard in points with 26 and in goals with 10. Hasbo has six goals over her last four games.

The Harvard defense is what shines through, as their 44 shots on goal allowed in the 2023 season rank third in the NCAA. The Michigan State offense will need to bring their A-game to boast through this tough Crimson defense.

The first-ever match between Michigan State and Harvard will take place Thursday night in Provo, Utah at BYU’s South Field. The match takes place at 6 p.m. (ET), with the winner advancing to the NCAA quarterfinals on Nov. 24 and 25, which will be hosted by the highest-remaining seed. The match can be seen on ESPN+.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributors
Colby Schikora, Writer
Colby Schikora is a senior studying sports journalism. He is in his second year at Impact and is currently the men's and women's socer beat reporter. He is also involved with Spartan Sports Report as a producer. 
Jack is a sports photographer for Impact. He grew up just outside of East Lansing and has been a lifelong Spartan. He has a primary interest in basketball and contributes to Impact’s NBA podcast, Courtside Convo.

Comments (0)

All Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest