It’s been a rocky road, but their work isn’t done just yet. With three more games to go and a final spot in the Big Ten Tournament up for grabs, the women’s soccer team is looking to cap the season on a high note. Here is what they have been through so far this season:
Team MVP: Sophomore defender Mary Kathryn Fiebernitz
Fiebernitz has been a true Spartan warrior all season as she has laid her body on the line game in and game out helping MSU’s defense. She also has been a weapon on offense, scoring a team-high six goals, which is good for a tie for 10th place in the Big Ten.
Breakout freshman: Freshman defender Jessica Kjellstrom
The true freshman stepped in to fill a hole in the back line immediately and has started 15 of the team’s 16 games.
Surprise performance: Sophomore goalkeeper Gabrielle Gauruder
Coming into the season, Gauruder was the backup to junior goalkeeper Courtney Clem. When Clem missed three games because of injury, Gauruder stepped in and led MSU to three straight wins. In Big Ten play, Clem started to struggle after a career game and shutout against Minnesota. After a 2-1 loss to Michigan, where Gauruder relieved Clem in just the 25th minute, the coaching staff decided to use both players on a game-by-game basis. Gauruder had a career-high 11 saves against Iowa, and has started the previous two matches, including a 4-0 shutout against Purdue on Oct. 18.
Game of the season: 4-0 win vs. Purdue
With the struggles the offense has faced all year, they routed the Boilermakers for a crucial Big Ten victory on Oct. 18. MSU started hot when junior forward Paige Wester scored just a minute and a half into the game. They also got goals out of Fiebernitz, sophomore forward Allyson Krause and freshman midfielder Marisa Oleksiak. The offense played huge for MSU and was able to relieve the pressure off of the defense for one of the first times all season.
Big Ten title possibilities:
The women only have three games left. They have struggled offensively all year and they most likely will need two wins to get into the Big Ten Tournament, so the chances they make the tournament are slim.
Biggest games coming up: Illinois and No. 17 Penn State
Both teams feature top 10 offenses in the nation and to make the tournament, MSU will need two more wins. With only three games left, MSU will need to find a way to win one of these to games.
MSU will travel to Champaign, Ill., on Oct. 27. Illinois features two of the top players in the nation. Illinois forward Jannelle Flaws currently leads the entire nation in goals with 18, and midfielder Vanessa DiBernardo is a three-time All-Big Ten performer and a two-time All-American. She has also played for the United State U-20 team.
The Spartans will end the season Nov. 1 against No. 17 Penn State. They feature the second-leading scorer in the nation behind Flaws. Forward Maya Hayes currently has 16 goals on the season and 35 total points, which is also second-best in the nation behind Flaws.
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