While the fans huddled together at Old College Field in an attempt to shield the cold Sunday, the womens soccer team braved the snow flakes while beating its in-state rival Michigan 1-0 to cap off a two-win weekend.
Sophomore midfielder Heidi Lutz, who scored the game-winning goal, said the chilly weather conditions did not affect the teams play.
This is the first game I have ever played in the snow, said Lutz, a California native. We just dont think about it, we just try to think about it as an advantage in any way that we can.
The win was extra meaningful to senior captain Gina Dawson since it was her last time playing U-M at home.
Its unbelievable because in the four years that Ive played them, weve beaten them in the spring but not in the fall, said Dawson, a midfielder. It always seems like were one goal away. Right now it just feels good. It was a hard fought game. Everybody was tired from Fridays game (a 1-0 win vs. Northwestern), and (everybody) worked real hard.
After a 72:09 deadlock, junior forward Emily Clarke drew a foul that gave MSU a free kick 35 yards from the net. Junior defender Nicole LePlae took the free kick and served a perfectly placed ball to Lutz, who headed it past U-M goalie Carissa Stewart.
Its something weve been working on in practice with Nicole LePlea because she can send perfect balls (into the box), Lutz said. I just try to get open and free and get a head on it.
Even though U-M spent the majority of the first half in MSU territory - outshooting the Spartans 10-2 - MSU head coach Tom Saxton said his team did a good job clearing the ball from its zone.
We thought that we defended well in the first half, but we werent satisfied with the amount of pressure we put on them with our offense, Saxton said. In the second half we said Lets go play to win. I think we were playing not to lose in the first half.
The offense picked up in the second half, outshooting U-M 7-5, while the defense continued to play well and was anchored by senior goalie Sara Kloosterman, who recorded her third straight shutout with six saves.
Although the Wolverines doubled MSUs shots 16-8, U-M head coach Debbie Belkin Rademacher said those shots were ineffective.
I cant say our shots were all that dangerous, they were just off, Belkin Rademacher said. Their defense is very organized they dont let you get behind, they rather retreat and kind of pack it in.
We didnt capitalize, we made a mistake they capitalized on and we just didnt get our chance.
This weekends wins over U-M and Northwestern catapulted MSU into position to make a run at the Big Ten title with a 4-2-1 conference record.
I told them going in (to this weekend) anything was still possible in the Big Ten, Saxton said. Penn State kind of has a little edge, but if we can keep finding a way to win we might be playing Penn State here in a couple weeks (Oct. 27) with a chance to win the Big Ten title.