Sometimes, all it takes is a little “Spartan heart” to give yourself the biggest weekend of your career.
That simply was the case, according to sophomore forward Allie Ahern, who netted two goals over the weekend against Ohio State and Ohio University. Two goals in back-to-back games might seem like a decent weekend for a forward, but when they are the only two goals scored in both games, it’s a pretty big deal.
The Spartans (8-6 overall, 2-1 Big Ten) came into Columbus, Ohio looking to win their second-straight Big Ten game. The No. 16 Buckeyes (9-5, 1-2) were looking to move into third place in the Big Ten with a win, but Ahern had different ideas.
Before the fans could even get comfortable in their seats, Ahern scored on a cross by freshman midfielder Mallory Tyler in the third minute of the game. From that point on, the Spartan defense shut down Ohio State to drive out of Buckeye territory with a win.
Ahern’s hunger for goals, however, was not satisfied, as she went on to net the game-winning goal in a 1-0 overtime game against Ohio (7-6, 1-1 MAC) just two days later.
In just three days, Ahern doubled her goal total on the year, going from two to four goals in dramatic fashion.
After the two-win weekend, Ahern and the Spartans now are tied for second in the Big Ten. In a season that has seen its ups and downs, the Spartans now see themselves in crunch time, and Ahern said that the team knows what to expect every game now.
“We walked into the two games this weekend talking about how we needed heart and how we need to fight because everyone in the Big Ten is an athletic team,” Ahern said.
Head coach Helen Knull has noticed a faster beat in that Spartan heart with Ahern’s big performance over the weekend. Just as Knull has been preaching all season, it is a good practice that translates into great game days.
“(The goals) were diving finishes, and so for her, she has been working hard in practice as an individual, and finally the goals came,” Knull said.
Ahern also was the first to say that it wasn’t all about her over the weekend, as the whole team stepped up to set her up for goals and shut down the opposition from scoring any goals.
One of her teammates who set Ahern up with the game-winner against Ohio knows a little about scoring herself. It was fellow sophomore forward Abby Barker, who leads the Spartans with 11 goals, who dished the assist to Ahern in overtime.
“We work really well together; she got to the right place at the right time,” Barker said. “Really, the whole team contributes to every goal, but it was her skill and finishing ability that ultimately led to the goal.”