Any time a team loses to a rival at home, it’s easy to focus on the negatives.
But MSU field hockey has chosen to focus on the positives after their 2-1, double overtime loss to Virginia.
“We played our game,” said junior midfielder Kristen Henn. “We did a really good job playing Spartan field hockey.”
Facing a Virginia team that coaches and players alike admitted they have some history with, the Spartans got off to a rough start when Virginia’s Paige Selenski scored just a minute and a half into the game. But MSU rallied and tied the game not long thereafter when Abby Barker put one in on a breakaway.
“I thought we were very resilient,” junior goalkeeper Molly Cassidy said. “We rebounded mentally (after Virginia’s goal).”
After a pair of goals in the first fifteen minutes of the game, the next 55 minutes of regulation saw no goals at all. Both teams had plenty of chances, but nobody was able to score. Virginia had 15 penalty corners in regulation, or five more corners than MSU took shots over the entirety of regulation and overtime.
The first overtime was very even, with neither team able to convert on their opportunities. But less than five minutes into the second overtime period, Selenski got into the circle and found Elly Buckley, who buried the shot to end the game.
Cassidy wasn’t really surprised when the game went to overtime.
“(Overtime with Virginia) is almost like tradition,” she said, laughing.
Virginia and MSU went to overtime in the NCAA tournament in 2009 and again in 2010, with the Cavaliers winning 3-2 in both instances.
Overall, head coach Helen Knull thought the officials did a good job, despite the extreme disparity in penalty corners awarded. She chalked that up to a combination of Virginia’s aggressiveness and her team’s defense.
Knull added that she liked a lot of what she saw from the Spartans, especially the way they came out.
“They get fired up,” she said. “Everyone’s just amped. You just have to use it to your advantage.”
Knull also liked the way her team responded to the challenge of facing a team with players like Selenski and Michelle Vittese, who were on the US Olympic team in London.
“We worked on keeping their players in front of us,” she said. “And we executed it. We did a good job pressing.”
Henn agreed with her coach.
“The defense played great,” Henn said. “We’re very confident in our defense.”
Cassidy liked the defense and the play overall.
“We played extremely well,” she said.
Now it’s time for the Spartans to put this game behind them and get ready for their match with Northeastern on Sunday.
“It happens sometimes,” said Knull. “Now we need to let it go.”
MSU takes on Northeastern on Sunday at 2 p.m. at Ralph Young Field.