Upperclassmen forwards aid MSU women's soccer's new point of emphasis
Following a 7-10-1 season in the fall, the MSU women’s soccer team started its spring season off strong with a 5-1 win over Bowling Green State University.
All five goals scored were by junior forwards Jamie Cheslik and Kristelle Yewah. Cheslik was credited with a hat trick and Yewah netted the other two goals.
Head coach Tom Saxton said Cheslik’s hat trick set the tone and his team was able to apply good pressure on the Falcon goalie.
“She’s at the top of her game right now, which is great for someone going into their senior year,” Saxton said. “She’s a leader.”
Saxton said he talked with Yewah and Cheslik during practice this past week and with switching to a 4-4-2 lineup, the team will heavily rely on those two to “set the tone for us.”
“Their form has been really really good in training,” Saxton said. “As they go we go, honestly so that was really encouraging after that kind of start and it shows to me that they’re going to take responsibility to set the tone for us.”
The tone is something MSU wanted to change during this past winter, Saxton said.
The Spartans have always been a good defensive team, Cheslik said. The team was No. 29 in the fall in save percentage.
But scoring was an issue for the Spartans, as they only scored 19 goals in 18 games during the fall season and tied for 243rd in goals per game.
“We put a lot of emphasis on scoring a lot of goals this season and working on it in the spring,” Cheslik said.
With a past emphasis on defense first, Yewah said they won’t only have to stay focused on continuing the scoring goals first mentality, but also not to forget about the defensive side.
“(We have) to keep the mentality of trying to be first to the ball first and things like that,” Yewah said.
Cheslik said balancing and keeping the two mentalities starts with trusting the switch from playing one forward, to two forwards and making sure everybody knows where everybody else is and working as a unit.
“Once one person goes, we all go,” Cheslik said. “We move as a unit, like forwards and backwards.”
Yewah said to continue the success they saw in Saturday’s game, they have to bring the energy they have in practice.
“I think people are more focused when they actually work hard,” Yewah said. “Everyone kind of knows what we need to do to make it a good practice.”
The MSU women’s soccer team takes the field next in a round robin exhibition on April 1 at DeMartin Stadium with Central Michigan University and Saginaw Valley State University.
“We may take a little bit different approach and play one game with our very best players starters out there, and the next game might be the one we jumble up,” Saxton said. “We’ll see how it goes.”