Spartans welcome Maryland for pivotal conference matchup

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Gia Wahlberg/Photo: MSU Athletic Communications

Luca Melloni, General Assignment Reporter

EAST LANSING – Following a devastating 3-2 loss against No. 19 Michigan, the Michigan State women’s soccer team now looks to close out the season with four games left at home, with the Maryland Terrapins up next. 

The Spartans look to find their 9th win of the season and their second win in the Big Ten on Thursday night at DeMartin Stadium. 

The Spartans continue to struggle in the Big Ten conference this season, with a conference record of 1-6-1 in 2019. Although they nearly pulled a big upset over their in-state rivals No. 19 Michigan, they look to keep up their momentum and not be discouraged over the last-minute result that occurred on Saturday night. 

Gia Wahlberg/Photo: MSU Athletic Communications

The Maryland Terrapins, currently sitting at sixth in the Big Ten standings, look to build off their impressive 2-1 victory over Purdue. The Terrapins now go on the road to face the Spartans and No. 19 Michigan to conclude their 2019 regular season. 

Last time out, the Spartans started the game against Michigan in a very weak and naive manner in the first half.

Head coach Tom Saxton believed the first half was “probably our worst half of the season,” as they conceded two goals in the opening 12 minutes of the game. 

As the game continued, the Spartans gained composure coming out of the half and gave an incredible burst of energy in the second half. Outstanding performances from Bria Schrotenboer and freshman Paige Webber inspired the Spartans to tie the game against one of the giants of collegiate women’s soccer in Michigan. 

The final 15 minutes of the match consisted of both teams attacking each other’s defense and in the end, Michigan cashed in their luck at the 86th minute off a turnover by the Spartans to seal the victory. 

With Gia Wahlberg back for the Spartans, they looked much more comfortable moving the ball in and out of the final third of the pitch and getting shots on target. Saxton praised the impact Wahlberg had, making her second appearance after her injury. 

Camryn Evans/Photo: MSU Athletic Communications

The key to success for the Spartans in the next few games is to match the intensity and character they displayed in the second half against the Wolverines and transfer it over to the remaining games at home. 

The attendance of the home crowd for Saturday’s game was also a notable influence that may have impacted the spirit in which the team played alongside. Saxton praised the attendance by claiming it was “a great night for soccer with a fantastic crowd.” The Spartan supporters now hope to replicate the electric and amusing environment on Thursday night. 

With all that said, the Spartans look to continue their winning record of 6-2-0 at DeMartin Stadium and they are aching to prove that they are a unit that can compete with big teams, despite following their last-minute loss last time out. 

Coach Saxton challenged the character of his team against Michigan and he hopes to bring out a motivated side to close out the final games of the season on a positive note.

Contact Luca Melloni [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @mellonluca.