Women's soccer plays No. 21 SDSU to a draw
Losing two starters last weekend to injury, MSU women’s soccer head coach Tom Saxton knew the team would be in for a tough match Friday evening against No. 21 San Diego State.
However, the Spartans hung on through two overtime periods for the 1-1 tie.
The Spartans (2-0-1) were tough on both sides of the ball, but slipped up in the 25th minute of the game when San Diego State forward Haley Locker broke away from Spartan defenders and put one past junior goalkeeper Courtney Clem to get out in front, 1-0.
MSU had plenty of scoring opportunities with 19 shots (10 on goal) against the Aztecs’ seven, but San Diego State’s goalkeeper Melanie Vaughn blocked a game-high nine goals.
San Diego State was looking to head into halftime leading by one, but with 48 seconds left, sophomore midfielder Kirsten Evans found the back of the net when Vaughn got tangled up and fell to the ground, giving Evans the scoring chance. The goal was assisted by junior defenseman/midfielder Nicole Caruso and sophomore defenseman Mary Kathryn Fiebernitz.
“We had tons of chances, (but) San Diego State is a very good team,” Saxton said. “You always want to win, at home especially, but we walk off proud of our effort for sure.”
Despite playing well against a top team in the nation, Saxton said he still would like to see his defense more disciplined, but said his team grew together by gutting out a tough result.
Although the rain didn’t reach East Lansing to affect the soccer game, humidity impacted both teams during the early stages of Friday’s game.
“The humidity was unbelievable at the beginning of the game, both teams were suffering,” Saxton said. “You could see people weren’t very lively. We had to come together as a team and have good team spirit, and that’s what really carried us through.”
Saxton and his team said these games are perfect opportunities to get in shape to accomplish their goal of a Big Ten championship.
“These are the kind of games we need in our (non-conference schedule) to get us ready for the big ten,” junior goalkeeper Courtney Clem said earlier this week.
Currently, there are three Big Ten teams in the top 25 with another receiving votes. After a disappointing 2012 season, two injuries and only six upperclassmen, MSU believes these early games against stiff competition will get them in form for Big Ten play.
“That’s what these games are for and this is a level you will get in the Big Ten,” Saxton said. “The only way you can succeed in the Big Ten is if you can prove to yourself that you can play at that level and we certainly did that today.”
The Spartans now will take their first road trip of the season to Ohio to face Dayton 1 p.m. Sunday.
Dayton led the nation in scoring last season with nearly three goals per game. The Flyers also return two of the nation’s leading scorers, midfielders Juliana Libertin and Ashley Campbell.