A rough weekend for MSU field hockey concluded with a 3-1 loss to Northeastern on Sunday at Ralph Young Field at Old College Field. The Spartans were hoping to bounce back from their double-overtime loss to Virginia on Friday, but a second-half surge by the Huskies was enough to put the game away.
After being ranked by the 2012 Penn Monto/National Field Hockey Coaches Association, or NFHCA, Division I National Coaches Poll for the first time since the beginning of the 2011 season, MSU immediately was tested by Virginia and Northeastern, who came into the weekend ranked sixth and 14th, respectively.
Sophomore forward Abby Barker said the Spartans consider themselves just as good as either of their opponents this weekend, if not better.
“We know we can beat these teams,” Barker said. “I thought (Friday’s loss to Virginia) was our best game so far.”
Northeastern scored late in the first on a breakaway by Crystal Poland, but Barker answered on a breakaway of her own just over a minute into the second half to tie the score at one. That was the high point of the match for MSU, however, as Poland scored twice more in the second half to salt away the Huskies’ win.
“We started the game with the momentum in our favor,” head coach Helen Knull said. “But we had some lulls defensively that led to their goals. Last week, we put an emphasis on defensive footwork and keeping players in front of us, and we struggled with that.”
Offensively, the Spartans had intermittent success, but couldn’t stay consistent.
“We needed to execute our game plan better and take advantage of our opportunities,” sophomore midfielder Heather Howie said.
Barker was less than thrilled with the team’s execution as well.
“When we play smart hockey, that’s when we can get them on their heels,” she said. “But we started back on our heels and let them set the tempo. We need to be proactive, not reactive.”
The focus now turns to next weekend, when the Spartans welcome American, Central Michigan and Louisville to town for the Auto-Owners Insurance MSU Invitational.
“We’re going to work on coming out with energy and getting in their faces,” Howie said. “And we need to make sure we play our own game.”
Even with the loss this weekend, Knull said she’s optimistic going into next weekend.
“We’re still making steps forward,” she said. “Now we just have to get back to how we play.”