At the end of a four-game stretch in which MSU athletics dominated its in-state rivals, the MSU field hockey team was unable to complete the sweep Friday, falling 2-0 to No. 7 Michigan at Ralph Young Field.
The Spartans (7-10 overall, 1-4 Big Ten) were looking to become the fourth MSU team to beat a U-M program since Oct. 12, joining the football, volleyball and women’s soccer teams. Instead, the field hockey team wound up on the losing end, allowing the Wolverines to get off 20 shots while the Spartans were held without one.
“We’ve been working on coming up with an attack on our press, and we just couldn’t connect,” head coach Helen Knull said. “We couldn’t get anything going. The ball was just a little bit too far ahead, or (it was) in the wrong space, and we just have to work on that during practice and try and get a better connection between midfield and forward lane.”
Despite constantly being on the defensive, the Spartan backfield was able to hold its own for most of the game, only allowing two goals and preventing any scoring plays off of penalty corners. Sophomore goaltender Molly Cassidy tallied nine saves on the day, including several impressive plays which prevented U-M from widening the gap, keeping the Spartans in the match.
“The defense fought really well, but we just wish we could have gotten more of an attacking presence on them as well,” Cassidy said.
Cassidy was coming off a performance against Ohio State that netted her the Big Ten defensive player of the week award. She was able to anchor the Spartan defensive effort against U-M, but ultimately, the team came up short.
“Obviously it’s very difficult to get a flow going when you’re constantly in your own circle, but I think we handled it well, and I think Molly came up big for us today,” senior back Holly Sherman said. “She’s just a rock. She’s one of the best goalies I’ve ever seen play.”
Sherman and fellow senior back Angie Lucik were honored before the match for the team’s senior day. Sherman said it was surreal to think about how close the end of her Spartan career was, but that it was nice to share the experience with her family that day, since they usually aren’t able to make it out for her games.
Even with the loss, Knull was able to pull some positives out of her team’s performance. She noted that her team was able to accomplish some of what they set out to do and also gave praise to the team’s total effort.
“We had 14 girls today that just worked their butts off on the field, and we had some players adjust really well to playing (positions they don’t normally play) today, and that was good to see,” she said.
The Spartans will return to Ralph Young Field on Friday at 3 p.m. to take on No. 9 Stanford for the team’s final home match of the season.