It’s been nearly a year, but the MSU women’s soccer team was able to finally pick up a Big Ten win.
The Spartans (7-1-2 overall, 1-1-0 Big Ten) defeated Minnesota, 3-0, for their first Big Ten win in the last eight matches. The last win came on Sept. 28, 2012, a 2-1 win against Nebraska. It also was MSU’s first shutout against a Big Ten opponent since they beat Northwestern, 2-0, in November 2011.
“It was a pretty even game. Actually I think they carried the play in the first half and to get two goals on the board like that gave us the opportunity,” head coach Tom Saxton said. “We played much better in the second half I thought and earned the result.”
Saxton said junior goalkeeper Courtney Clem played the best game of her career en route to her eighth career shutout.
Clem had 12 saves on the game, which was a career high, and made several diving plays to hold on to the shutout.
“They were dangerous too and she was very sharp,” Saxton said. “They took their chances well on (Courtney) and (she) stuffed them every time.”
MSU capitalized offensively early in the game when, in the 23rd minute, sophomore forward Allyson Krause got past the defense and knocked a liner past Minnesota’s goalkeeper Tarah Hobbs. It was Krause’s third goal of the year.
Sophomore defender Mary Kathryn Fiebernitz also scored for the Spartans. In the 42nd minute, Fiebernitz got a pass from sophomore defender Alexandra Gjonaj’s corner kick and headed it past Hobbs. It was her team-leading fourth goal of the season — two of which have been off of headers.
“Mary’s been strong on corners all year and that’s been one of our weapons and we got it done,” Saxton said.
With 10 minutes left in the game junior midfielder Megan Marsack tacked on an insurance goal to secure the win. Junior forward Paige Wester and Krause made a couple nice passes to each other which led Wester to make a nice pass to the left side of the net where Marsack tapped it in for her first goal of the season.
Wester was playing in her first game back since suffering a knee injury in the season opener against Buffalo. Wester, who started in all 18 games she played in last season, had to sit out the last eight matches, but impressed in her first game back.
“(Wester) put the nail in the coffin in the second half with a very, very calm offensive play and with a nice slot pass to Megan Marsack,” Saxton said. “Until that point, there was nothing secure about this game. It was back and forth and I think that one broke their spirit. She was a huge lift and we’re happy to have her back.”
Sitting out the last five weeks has been tough for Wester, but she gave the Spartans that offensive spark they’ve been looking for early this season.
Wester said it was difficult to get back in game shape because the “motion” of the game is tough to find.
“It’s hard to get back into it and get back into shape,” Wester said. “I’ve only been practicing for a few days so the game was really different than practice, so it was nice getting back healthy.”
Coming off a loss in their first Big Ten game against Nebraska last weekend, Allyson Krause said Friday’s win was key and will look to keep the momentum going.
MSU will face off against No. 18 Wisconsin (6-1-1, 1-0-0) on Sunday afternoon at DeMartin Stadium.
“Going into Sunday’s game, I feel like we’re going to have a lot of confidence coming off the win,” Krause said. “We’ll look to play as a team and other players stepped up when they could fill other player’s position.”