Monday, September 25, 2023

Spartans are statistical phenomenon

Cash Kruth

Eight games into the season, the No. 13 MSU women’s soccer team is quite simply a statistical marvel.

Aside from their 6-0-2 unbeaten record, the Spartans have allowed only three goals — best in the Big Ten — while scoring 20 and are tied for second in the conference.

Yet, as impressive as that comparison is, it only scratches the surface of what the Spartans have been able to accomplish.

Offensive firepower — Heading into this season, it was common knowledge the Spartans were going to attack. They’ve done just that, with one exception — they’re scoring even more than people fathomed.

Aside from goals scored, the team also has scored the most points (68) in the Big Ten. Even more impressive are the seasons senior forward Lauren Hill and sophomore forward Laura Heyboer are having.

The duo rank one and two, respectively, in the Big Ten in shots per game. Hill leads the conference in both points (18) and goals (eight) — the exact single-season totals during both her freshman and sophomore years — while Heyboer is tied for second with 15 points and tied for third with six goals.

Hill is even dominating on the national level, tied for second in the NCAA with a three points per game average, and also is third in goals per game with 1.25.

Teamwork — Hill and Heyboer couldn’t score if they didn’t get the ball, and that would be almost impossible without sophomore midfielder Hannah Peterson. Peterson’s five assists are the second-most in the conference, and she also leads the Big Ten in assists per game.

Junior forward Cara Freeman is tied for third in the conference with four assists, while freshman midfielder Jordan Mueller, senior midfielder Megan Brown, senior midfielder Lauren Sinacola and Heyboer are each tied for sixth with three.

Team-wise, the Spartans have a conference-most 28 assists — five more than second place Ohio State, which has played one more game.

Jill Flietstra and Co. — Ranking the sophomore goalkeeper against her fellow Big Ten keepers, Flietstra has given up the least amount of goals (three), leads in goals-against average (0.36) and has the highest save percentage (.893).

Like Hill, Flietstra also is near the top nationally, ranking third in save percentage and fifth in goals-against average.

The only thing the MSU goalkeeper doesn’t rank high in is saves, as her 25 are only tied for eighth. But, there is a simple explanation for that — she doesn’t get the chances.

Think about this stat — the Spartans have outshot their opponents 158-56.

Even though they’ve faced opponents that presented them with matchup problems, the Spartans have still feasted on inferior talent and should be posting good numbers.

So, what do all these numbers mean? I don’t know, but they sure are impressive.

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