In front of a sellout crowd in Ann Arbor, Mich., Michigan State and the University of Michigan battled for 90 minutes for bragging rights in the state of Michigan.
The Wolverines had their chances early in the game inside the Spartans’ 18-yard-box, but could not convert as the Michigan State defense stood tall and blocked their shots.
Michigan State would have their chances, but it would come later in the first half in the 35th and 36th minutes when freshman forward, Kristelle Yewah, headed a cross wide of the Wolverine goal inside the box, and freshman midfielder, Morgan McKerchie, poked her shot past the keeper and wide of the goal.
Yewah would get one more scoring opportunity inside Michigan’s box in the 42nd minute, but this time she would be denied by a diving save from freshman goalkeeper, Megan Hinz.
It would not take the Wolverines long to get their first goal after a cross ended up bouncing around inside the Spartans’ box. The ball found the foot of junior midfielder, Corinne Harris, who put it into the back of the net in the 46th minute.
Michigan State kept their pressure on the Michigan defense, and nine minutes later freshman forward, Jamie Cheslik, ended up drilling a left-footed shot past Hinz to tie the game at 1-1.
“She was incredible tonight,” head coach Tom Saxton said. “Very dangerous on the flank and got us in many times, and then when we had good numbers in the box on that goal, Jamie put it away with confidence.”
For the next 33 minutes, both teams would have multiple scoring chances off free kicks and through balls, but tactics would be the deciding factor in this game.
With a minute left in the game, the Spartans had the ball in their own end and cleared it right to a Michigan defender who played the ball forward.
The ball got knocked around by two Michigan players and then found the feet of sophomore forward, Nicky Waldeck, who turned and shot the ball which was then deflected in past redshirt senior goalkeeper, Courtney Clem, with 24 seconds left to play.
“The midfield wasn’t able to connect in those last five or seven minutes and hold it up for us or switch the point of attack,” Saxton said.
The Spartans have gone 0-4-1 in Big Ten play and are still looking for a win after five close conference games.
“I thought we played good soccer and we didn’t sustain it those last few minutes,” Saxton said. “For us as a coaching staff, we got to work on the kids’ psyche because this has been a broken record for us for the last two weeks and we got to get it turned around.”
Michigan State’s next game is against Iowa University on Oct. 2 at 4:30 p.m. at DeMartin Stadium.
Brooks Laimbeer is the host of Corner Kick for Impact Sports
Photo: David Defever/Impact Sports