Thursday, May 23, 2024

Womens soccer to face Illini in Big Ten tourney

November 2, 2000

The MSU women’s soccer team enters this year’s Big Ten tournament today in Champaign, Ill., without senior goalkeeper and co-captain Sara Kloosterman, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in last weekend’s 1-0 loss to Penn State.

Kloosterman, who will stay on as MSU’s goalie coach next year - passed the baton to her protégé - freshman goalie Stacy Heller - prematurely when the Spartans beat Bowling Green 1-0 Sunday. The game marked Heller’s first career start and shutout.

The fifth-seeded Spartans will call on Heller again today when they kick off the first round of the tournament against this year’s host team, fourth-seeded Illinois, at noon.

Heller, who was coached by Kloosterman in the Olympic Development Program, said her nerves will be curbed since Kloosterman will be on the sideline supporting her.

“I’m more excited than nervous,” Heller said. “Just by having people on the sideline helping me out like ‘Kloo,’ it helps so much. Her shoes are so incredibly large to fill and just by her being there cuts down on the size of her shoes a lot.”

While icing her knee in the training room at Jenison Field House on Tuesday, Kloosterman said she has gotten over the disappointment of not being able to play in her final Big Ten tournament.

“Honestly I could be really disappointed but I’m really not,” Kloosterman said. “I’ve left the team in good hands.”

Even though the game is on the Illini’s home field, the Spartans feel they can beat Illinois, which beat them Sept. 24 in Champaign, 2-1.

MSU head coach Tom Saxton said he was hoping to draw a team in the tournament that the Spartans lost to during the regular season.

“My desire for the seedings is that we played somebody that we’ve lost to before,” Saxton said. “I wanted to be able to revenge one of our losses, and also following what I believe to be true in college sports, that it’s very difficult to beat a team twice in one season. I’m not disappointed who we have to play other than the home-field factor.”


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