For the second-consecutive season, the MSU women’s soccer team will not make a trip to the Big Ten Tournament.
After a 2-1 victory at Northwestern on Friday to stay in the hunt for a tournament berth, the Spartans (9-7-2 overall, 3-7-0 Big Ten) couldn’t find a way to win against Illinois (9-7-2, 4-5-1), losing 2-0 Sunday afternoon.
The Spartans and the Illini stayed scoreless for much of the game, but in 80th minute Illinois midfielder Allie Osoba beat sophomore goalkeeper Gabrielle Gauruder to the right off a pass from a flip throw and found the back of the net for her fifth goal of the season.
“They had a flip throw that was quite dangerous, and we created more of the actual live chances and had some very good ones we probably should’ve put away,” head coach Tom Saxton said. “They took one of the flip throws and it got deflected and bounced in-between our backs and the middle of the goal, and they knocked it in and gave them a spark. We had to clear the ball. It’s that simple, and it cost us the game.”
Less than four minutes later, the Illini iced the game when the nation’s leading-scorer, Illinois forward Jannelle Flaws, scored her 19th goal of the year to give Illinois the two-goal lead. Her goal also broke Illinois’ school record for goals scored in a season.
Flaws got the ball on a free kick and curled it past Gauruder into the top right corner.
MSU had a few opportunities and couldn’t create any goals. MSU was once again outshot by an opponent, 17-5. It was the 14th game MSU was outshot.
Despite Flaws’ goal off a restart, Saxton said he was proud of his team’s defense for controlling Flaws the entire game, especially without senior defender and team captain Kelsey Mullen, who is out with an injury.
“(The defense) played fantastic, honestly, other than that let down,” Saxton said. ”(Flaws) is one of the top goal scorers in the nation. We game-planned to keep her in front of us, and they defended her great and never had a chance on a live play… She never had any chances on a live play, which I’m very pleased with the defense in terms of that performance.”
Friday night against Northwestern, MSU faced tough winds and cold weather, but came away with the win. With the game knotted 1-1 in the 84th minute, junior forward Paige Wester turned a corner and found sophomore midfielder Kirsten Evans who netted her third goal of the season to give MSU the lead and win.
“They were getting position on us aggressively and quickly, and we were caught reacting and forced to foul quite a bit,” Saxton said after Friday’s victory. “We made a couple changes from the bench, and those players picked us up, and we raised our level in the battle.”
MSU now will end the season at 3 p.m. Friday afternoon at DeMartin Stadium against No. 16 Penn State (12-5-1, 6-4-0). Like Illinois, the Nittany Lions feature one of the top goal scorers in the nation, with forward Maya Hayes being tied for fifth in the nation with 16 goals this season.
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