For the first time since 2009, the women’s soccer team will enter its Big Ten schedule without a loss.
The Spartans (6-0-2 overall) finished their non-conference slate Sunday afternoon at Eastern Michigan and escaped with a nail-biting victory, thanks to two clutch penalty kicks from sophomore defender Mary Kathryn Fiebernitz in the second half.
“It’s their only home game against a Big Ten team (and) they’re always tough down (in Ypsilanti),” head coach Tom Saxton said. “It’s an in-state game where there’s a lot of pride on the line.”
MSU jumped out to a 2-0 lead with goals from freshman forward Michelle Dear in the 44th minute. Then in the 70th minute, Fiebernitz got a penalty kick and knocked it past EMU goalkeeper Megan McCabe.
Just four minutes after Fibernitz’s goal, however, the Eagles retaliated with a pair of their own goals to try and force overtime. EMU forward Bianca Rossi and midfielder Stephanie Clarke answered with two goals in the span of five minutes to tie the game.
With the game tied, 2-2, EMU was looking at forcing another Big Ten team into overtime. Early in the season, EMU already faced three Big Ten squads — then-No. 23 Ohio State, No.11 Michigan and Indiana — two of which went to overtime.
But Fiebernitz had other plans.
Fiebernitz received another penalty kick opportunity in the 88th minute and capitalized to give the Spartans a 3-2 lead and the eventual victory.
The goal, Fiebernitz’s third of the season, ties her with redshirt freshman Jessica White for the most on the team.
On Friday night, the Spartans picked up a 3-1 win against Bowling Green. MSU had many opportunities and had a season-high 28 shots against BGSU’s one shot.
“We’re obviously providing opportunities on our attack,” White said after the game. “It means we have the ability to work on finishing and putting more in the back of the net.”
Heading into the first Big Ten weekend against Nebraska and Minnesota, the Spartans hope to redeem themselves after a poor Big Ten showing in 2012.
Last year, the Spartans went 7-1-1 in non-conference play and went on to win only two games out of 11 total Big Ten matches.
“The Big Ten’s always tough, and it’s always a flip of the coin every day,” Saxton said. “The main thing is to be resilient and that’s one of our mottos so we’ll keep pushing that message.”