After improving to 3-0 in Big Ten play in a 3-2 double-overtime thriller over No. 18 Michigan on Friday, head coach Helen Knull said she feared the field hockey team would not be able to maintain the momentum against Ball State on Sunday.
After all, they hadn’t put together two straight wins all season.
“Yesterday at practice, we were really harping at the girls that this game’s going to be key for us to put two games together,” Knull said.
The harping paid off, as the field hockey team (7-7 overall, 3-0 Big Ten) reached .500 with a 8-0 shellacking over Ball State (5-8, 0-4 MAC) on Sunday.
It was a complete offensive and defensive effort for the Spartans — or as Knull likes to say, “70 minutes of Spartan hockey.” MSU attempted a season-high 33 shots and allowed four from the Ball State Cardinals.
For the second straight game, MSU maintained consistent effort from beginning to end.
“(The team) talked about this before — sometimes when we’re ahead 3-0 in a game, we settle back like ‘Oh, we got this,’” said junior forward Allie Ahern, who scored her team-leading 10th goal of the season.
Seven different Spartans contributed to the box score, and junior forward Abby Barker led the way with two goals.
It was a balanced effort that saw contributions from starters and bench players alike.
“We all got a lot of different forwards in there so it was good to see a lot of different teammates in running the new circuits, running the different patterns that we always run,” said junior midfielder Alli Helwig, who scored her first career goal in the game.
Barker scored just 3:27 minutes into the game. It was a prelude of what was to come, as MSU totaled five goals in the first half and three in the second.
Senior goalkeeper Molly Cassidy and freshman goalkeeper Sierra Patton split time at the net, but neither recorded any saves as Ball State’s four shots were blocked.
With a .500 record, the field hockey team can now qualify for the postseason tournament.
Ahern said with the successful weekend, the team has proved to themselves that they can perform well in back-to-back games.
“When it comes tournament time, we can win two games in a row,” Ahern said. “We want our record to be better than it is, but it just shows us that we can win two games in a weekend and make it to the tournament.”