After a rough loss against Pacific on Monday, the No. 20 MSU field hockey team looks to right its ship during its trip to Ohio this weekend.
On Friday, the Spartans (6-6 overall, 1-2 Big Ten) take on No. 16 Ohio State (8-4, 1-1) and then travel northeast to play Ohio University (6-5, 0-1 MAC) on Sunday.
Head coach Helen Knull, who hasn’t seen her team win back-to-back games since Sept. 14 and 16, called the prospect of winning both games this weekend “huge”.
“After last weekend, on our loss to Pacific, we dropped in the RPI poll from 15 to 26,” Knull said. “Here on out, we have nothing but regional games, except for Penn State, and we just need to take care of our own game plan and take care of ourselves.”
Last time the Spartans played the Buckeyes, MSU came on out on top, winning the game 2-1 on penalty strokes — field hockey’s version of a penalty shootout.
Ohio State, which has won six of its last seven games, has scored 33 goals in its last seven contests. Despite playing the Buckeyes’ top-notch defense days after being stunned by Pacific, junior goalkeeper Molly Cassidy is optimistic about the first leg of the road trip.
“One thing we really have is that even in the bad times, we stick together, and going into that (OSU) game, we’re ready for anything,” Cassidy said.
After Friday, the Spartans go Buckeyes to Bobcats, as they face Ohio for the first time in two years. In 2010, the Spartans came away with the victory, winning in a 6-4 barn burner.
Although their game against the Bobcats is a nonconference game, the Spartans can’t take Ohio lightly, as they are fresh off of a 3-2 victory against No. 15 Wake Forest.
Knull expects to see a relentless and aggressive team when they travel to Athens, Ohio, to face the Bobcats.
“I don’t know any way else to put it — they just have some girls who are really powerful,” Knull said.
This weekend, the team will look for another great performance from sophomore forward Abby Barker, who scored three of MSU’s five goals in the last two games. Cassidy, who recorded her second shutout of the year against Indiana last Friday, will be a key player, as she has given the Spartans a consistent season in net. No matter who steps up, however, the Spartans will need a good outing this weekend to get back on track.
“Every single game (from) now on is a winning game; we need to treat every single game like it’s the national championship,” sophomore forward Heather Howie said. “There is no room for error anymore; we need to win every single game.”