A week after suffering a tough road loss to Penn State, the field hockey team (8-8 overall, 3-1 Big Ten) will play No. 11 Northwestern (12-4, 3-1) at home on Saturday.
The loss against Penn State made MSU’s quest for a Big Ten championship significantly tougher, as the Spartans will have to win their final two Big Ten games and Penn State will have to lose their final two.
Because Penn State is still undefeated in the conference and own the tiebreaker over the Spartans, MSU will have to finish with a better record to clinch the conference title.
Despite losing to Penn State, MSU sees positives in the game. It took Penn State two overtimes and several close calls to pull off the win.
“It was such a fun game to play in,” said junior forward Allie Ahern. “Yeah, we eventually lost to them, but just knowing that we can hang with any team in the country is a real confidence-booster.”
The 3-1 lead evaporated in the final seven minutes of the game when senior midfielder Kristen Henn, who is a major part of the Spartan defense, was ejected from the game with a yellow card.
Had the card not happened, it’s plausible that MSU would have held on to the lead.
“That was one of the positives I took from the game, that we can compete with the reigning Big Ten champs and a top five team,” said junior forward Abbie Barker. “Definitely a positive.”
MSU pulled back to .500 with a win over Central Michigan Tuesday afternoon, and will look to pull to above .500 Saturday.
The Spartans play Northwestern at Ralph Young Field on Saturday at 1 p.m.