EAST LANSING, Mich. – With a matchup against No. 12 Louisville looming on Sunday, the risk for Michigan State to overlook UC Davis in a “trap game” was something that the Spartans were determined to not let happen. Despite a slow offensive start and some mental miscues, the Spartans outlasted a scrappy UC Davis Team in double overtime 2-1 and improved to 3-0 on the young season.
“I don’t think we were thinking about the Louisville game in all honesty,” sophomore goalie Jade Arundell said. “I think we were a bit nervous, because it was our first home game and we usually don’t play at this time. It wasn’t a perfect start, but we grind when we need to grind.”
She also mentioned the need to turn the page quickly, with another opponent coming in a little over 36 hours.
“We did all the work, we are fit enough and we know we can do it,” Arundell said. “No one is better than us at the end of the day if we think that.”
The first quarter and a half of the contest was a defensive affair. Both teams struggled to maintain any sort of offensive rhythm as goalies Jade Arundell and Chelsea Bigelow gobbled up any loose balls in the crease. Arundell registered two saves in the first for MSU, while Bigelow cast aside the one shot on goal the Spartans registered in the first quarter.
Both dormant offenses started to establish more of a rhythm at the beginning of the second frame. The goaltender Bigelow came up huge for UC Davis, as she deflected three hard shots off of Spartan sticks. Despite several quality scoring chances for MSU, Bigelow held down the Spartan attack as halftime drew near.
As the second quarter came to a close, UC Davis was able to mount an offensive charge that resulted in what appeared to be the first goal of the game by Sara Janetzky off an insert. The goal would be waived off due to a high sticking violation and would stand after a lengthy review.
Redemption for the Aggies and Janetzky would come in the form of a Shannon Wong goal only a few minutes later. She was able to redirect a Janetzky shot by the sprawling Arundell. With that goal, the Aggies drew first blood.
The first portion of the third quarter followed a similar script as the first half. Both teams traded good offensive sets for short periods of time, but sustained offensive momentum continued to elude both teams.
Unlike the first half however, the Spartans were finally able to capitalize on a corner opportunity in the latter half of the third, as Nienke Bloemsaat rocketed a shot past Bigelow. Cara Bonshak and Aisha Osinga registered assists on the Bloemsaat goal. That goal was also her first ever at home.
A late corner opportunity for MSU was squandered with only a couple minutes left in the game. It seemed only fitting that these two teams who had traded blows all day would need overtime to decide the hotly contested competition.
Despite the Spartans controlling the majority of the opening overtime period, they were unable to put the game to bed. Another overtime period would be needed. Junior forward Lia Sinisi wasted no time collecting the ball and delivering the game-winning goal for MSU in dramatic fashion.
When asked about her game-winning goal, Sinisi instead referred to the need for MSU to play more as a team sooner rather than later in games.
“As a team, we needed to move forward. We were playing the last part of the game as more of as a team. We were playing very individually for most of the game, which is why it dragged out.”
The Spartans schedule will now ramp up significantly in difficulty, starting with a home contest against Louisville this Sunday at 11 a.m. After two opening neutral sight games, the Green and White will now be at home until Sept. 27, when they duel conference foe Northwestern.
Contact Nathan Stearns at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @NathanStearns11.