The MSU field hockey team came into this weekend’s Auto-Owners Insurance MSU Invitational looking to bounce back from a pair of losses to Virginia and Northeastern the previous weekend. And with Friday’s win over American and Sunday’s overtime victory against Louisville, the Spartans did exactly that.
MSU (5-3) pulled out a gritty 2-1 victory against the Cardinals when sophomore forward Abby Barker dribbled into the circle and sank a drive from about 17 yards out with approximately eight minutes left in the first overtime period. Barker also scored the Spartans’ first goal when she deflected a shot by senior forward Jessica Lindner into the net in the first half.
Barker said MSU did a good job forcing the issue against Louisville.
“We kept attacking,” Barker said. “We got opportunities and took advantage of them, and I think that really led us to the win.”
The Spartans went into the weekend — Sunday’s game in particular — with an emphasis on trying to eliminate defensive penalty corners. They were mostly successful against the Cardinals, giving up just six in the game and only one in the first half.
“We have a game plan for every game, and our game plan was to give them less than double-digit corners,” Lindner said. “We did a great job.”
The game got a bit chippy in the second half, with one green card and two yellow cards handed out. Head coach Helen Knull shrugged it off, crediting the cards to the passion of both teams.
“It was intensity from both teams,” Knull said. “I think both teams were really trying to push for the win. Both benches were really getting fired up. But we need to control the controllables and focus on ourselves.”
The Spartans, while pleased with the weekend overall, now have to prepare for their match with Iowa this Friday, the opening match of MSU’s Big Ten season. Knull said that despite the progress the team has made so far, they still have room for improvement.
“We made some improvements from Friday, ” she said. “But we have other things to work on before Iowa.”
Knull, Lindner and Barker all named individual defense as a major priority for this week’s practices. The other main thing they mentioned was the team’s decision making.
“We want to work on our team speed of decision making,” Knull said. “It’s not a physical thing. We’re fit, (and) we’re healthy. It’s a mental part.”
MSU will take on Iowa on Friday at 3 p.m. at Ralph Young Field.