No. 19 field hockey team readies for rematch with Michigan
After winning two nail-biting games in the state of Ohio last weekend, the MSU field hockey team only was given a short time to relish in their victory.
“We finished the game (against Ohio) Sunday, let them have a half hour to enjoy the (1-0 overtime) win, and then we started focusing on Friday,” head coach Helen Knull said.
The No. 19 Spartans (8-6 overall, 2-1 Big Ten) didn’t have too much time to celebrate their victories, but quite frankly the team might have not used up all 30 minutes before looking at Friday’s opponent — Michigan.
“(The Michigan game) happens to be a Big Ten game and it’s going to be on TV, so I think everyone has been excited about this game since last year we played them — (we’re) just ready for that redemption,” junior goalkeeper Molly Cassidy said.
Last year, the Spartans lost to the then-No. 7 Wolverines (7-5, 0-2) 0-2 in East Lansing, and MSU also fell to their rival 1-2 in their first exhibition game this season. This means that the Spartans are looking to avenge two losses to the No. 16 Wolverines, and sophomore forward Abby Barker is anticipating the chance to take down Michigan.
“It’s really exciting, because we played them our first exhibition game, and while they came out and beat us, we are a different team now,” Barker said.
Although Knull said that her team is confident for the upcoming game, they still will need to prepare for a close, hard-fought game.
“It is always a battle, people always ask ‘how are you guys doing’, or ‘how is Michigan doing’, but it really doesn’t matter, they are pretty much always one-goal games,” Knull said.
After their game in Ann Arbor, the Spartans cross the Ohio border again, as they travel to play Kent State (5-10, 1-1 MAC) on Sunday.
To most Spartans, the Golden Flashes are just another team, but for Knull, it is a team with which she holds many memories.
During her time at Kent State, Knull pieced together an attention-grabbing resume; she started all four years, being named team captain and NCAA All-American for two years as she led the Golden Flashes to the NCAA Tournament four years in a row. Knull, who was assistant coach for two years and associate head coach for one year for Kent State before coming to MSU, eventually was named to the Kent State Athletics Hall of Fame in 2008.
Although Knull has fond memories of her days on the field, she will reflect on her days at Kent State when she arrives on campus.
“I loved my college experience, it was a great town with great people and great teammates,” Knull said.
Cassidy, who was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week after two shutouts against Ohio State and Ohio, looks to lead the Spartans’ defense with her Big Ten-best save percentage of .947 during conference games.
On offense, the attack will be led by Barker, who leads the team with 11 goals, and sophomore forward Allie Ahern, who netted both game-winning goals over the last weekend.
The Spartans face Michigan at 3 p.m. Friday in Ann Arbor then head to Kent State to play at noon on Sunday in Kent, Ohio.