Golden Gophers Slip past Spartans in Overtime

After losing to the University of Wisconsin on Friday, Michigan State dropped their second Big Ten game against the University of Minnesota in overtime, 1-0.

The Spartans were out shot by the Golden Gophers 17-7, but the game was much closer than the numbers on the stat sheet, despite tired legs and a few injured Spartans.

“I think it was a grinding game, it was a Sunday game,” MSU head coach Tom Saxton said. “Completely different from Friday, the tempos and the styles, and our offense wasn’t able to open up the Minnesota defense as well as we did against pretty much everybody else this year. I give (Minnesota) a lot of credit.”

During the first half, the Spartans tested Minnesota goalkeeper Tarah Hobbs early and could not find the back of the net.

In the first 15 minutes of the game, Michigan State had two chances to score. The first came in the 10th minute off a MSU corner kick, which was first cleared by the Golden Gophers. Junior midfielder Allyson Krause played a lofted ball inside the 18-yard box where redshirt junior defender Mary Kathryn Fiebernitz got a head on it, but hit it right at Hobbs.

The second look came minutes later off a through ball from redshirt junior midfielder Kirsten Evans that found senior forward Paige Wester on a run towards the goal.

Wester touched it past Hobbs, but hit it too far to the point where Hobbs had time to recover and Wester could not get off a clean shot at an open goal.

“We just need to finish goals. That’s pretty much it,” Wester said. “We just need to get it in the back of the net and that’s what we are going to work on this week.”

At the start of the second half, Minnesota produced several opportunities, but none better than in the 52nd minute when sophomore forward Simone Kolander struck a shot from inside the 18-yard box that forced Michigan State senior goalkeeper Courtney Clem to punch it over the goal for a corner kick.

For the remaining 38 minutes, the Golden Gophers and Spartans went back and forth with each team earning one or two free kicks and corners, which neither team could take advantage of.

In first overtime period in the 92 minute, Michigan State found themselves with a free kick opportunity 25 yards from goal. Senior defender Nicole Caruso stepped over the ball and struck it far post, but Hobbs was there to grab the ball.

A minute later, the Golden Gophers earned a corner kick and sophomore defender Ashley Pafko hit a ball in the middle of the 18-yard box, which found sophomore midfielder Josee Stiever who shot it at goal. A Michigan State defender tried to clear it, but ended up deflecting it into their own goal.

“I think Courtney (Clem) probably needed to get something on it. If a goalkeeper exits on a corner, they gotta get a touch on the ball,” Saxton said. “I don’t know if she got impeded or what happened, but that certainly let the ball stay in there and credit to their aggressiveness again. Physical play. They got something on it or popped it in one way or another.”

The Spartans begin their first Big Ten road trip this upcoming weekend when they go to Rutgers University on Friday and then to the University of Maryland on Sunday.

“It is tough. We are all humans. We missed a couple opportunities at home and we only have four more home matches the rest of the year,” Saxton said. “It is disappointing, but the most important thing we can do now is to regroup, get our confidence and get ready for a tough trip out East.”

Brooks Laimbeer is the host of Corner Kick for Impact Sports.

Photo: Hannah McEnroe/Impact Sports