Saturday, December 3, 2022

Freeman offers to play anywhere for team's sake

September 9, 2009

Cara Freeman will play anywhere for the MSU women’s soccer team.

The junior played forward in high school, is now playing outside midfielder for MSU and even mentioned playing in net for head coach Tom Saxton — an offer she said he wasn’t exactly thrilled about.

“I just look at it as if we win as a team; I don’t really look at what I do individually,” Freeman said. “As long as we score and we play good as a team, I have no comment on how I play. … I just go where the team wants (me). As long as I’m out there playing, I really don’t care.”

Freeman came to East Lansing from (Illinois’) Lincoln-Way Central High School as a scoring forward. She was the 2007 IHSCAA High School Player of the Year and a high school All-American with 96 career goals. She’s been every bit of the player she was expected to be at MSU, but the 2008 Second-Team All-Big Ten selection still often falls under the radar behind sophomore forward Laura Heyboer and senior forward Lauren Hill.

Because of Heyboer’s highly anticipated arrival in 2008, Saxton said he was thinking about what to do with Hill — the team’s top player — and Freeman — 2007’s top recruit — as early as 2007.

“I knew what (Heyboer) brought to the table and I was curious as to how the whole thing would play out at the time,” Saxton said. “I was open-minded between either Cara or (Hill) playing in an open spot, and it kind of worked itself out last season.”

Heyboer’s 21 goals and Hill’s 12 led the Spartans to the NCAA Tournament last season, but Saxton said Freeman’s ability to move to the outside middle was key for MSU’s offense. At that position, she still can be in position to attack on her own, while also showing off her skills as a distributor.

As a player in youth leagues and high school, Freeman said she always played forward because she was one of the best players. After spending a year at outside midfield, she prefers it there.

“I think that’s more my natural position for what my talent is,” Freeman said. “Forward, I was always just stuck up there as a little kid. … I think the midfield is more natural for me, especially on the outside,”

Next up: Illinois State

The Spartans (3-0-1) will host Illinois State (1-2-1) at 4 p.m. Friday at DeMartin Stadium at Old College Field. The Redbirds picked up their first win of the season Sunday, and Saxton said the report he has is that they are a fairly tall and physical team.

“They might offer us an element we haven’t seen before, which could cause some problems for us,” Saxton said. “It will be a more direct game, which, quite honestly, will be decided in the air and we’ve not seen that.”

Flietstra still sore

After Sunday’s game against Central Michigan, Saxton revealed that sophomore goalkeeper Jill Flietstra has been dealing with a right groin injury. Saxton said he would monitor the situation, but said Wednesday that the has “been very conservative” with her this week in practice. She was kept out of practice Tuesday, and Saxton planned to do the same Wednesday.

With Flietstra in net, the Spartans lead the Big Ten in goals allowed (one) and goals against average (0.24) through Tuesday.

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