The clock is ticking for the women’s soccer team.
The Spartans (7-4-2 overall, 1-4-0 Big Ten) have only six games remaining in the regular season before the Big Ten Tournament. They currently sit three points out of eighth place in the Big Ten — the number of teams allowed into the tournament.
MSU only will have to face one team this weekend, Ohio State, instead of a usual Friday-Sunday slate.
The Spartans will have a pivotal Big Ten matchup when they go to Columbus, Ohio, on Saturday to face Ohio State (7-3-3, 1-2-2), who currently sits in ninth place in the conference.
“Our heads will be focused on Ohio State, instead of two games like Friday-Sunday,” sophomore forward Allyson Krause said. “We have to win. That’s definitely a key thing (with only six games left), and we’ll have to come together as a team and play our hardest, and hopefully we’ll get good results from that.”
Thus far this season, the Spartans have struggled offensively and will continue to work on finishing.
MSU ranks last in the Big Ten with only 166 shots on the season (12.77/game), and ranks eighth in the conference in goals (1.69/game).
Head coach Tom Saxton said the themes are the same as they have been all season, but the Spartans need to continue to improve if they want to make the conference tournament.
“We gotta continue to improve our attack,” Saxton said. “Defensively, we’ve proven that we can defend good teams. It wasn’t easy against Iowa, we were a little off, but I think we just gotta create more chances.”
Junior goalkeeper Courtney Clem was the starter for much of the season, but after a great game against Minnesota, she has since had some troubles against No. 20 Wisconsin and No. 19 Michigan.
Clem gave up two goals in the first 15 minutes of a 2-0 loss to Wisconsin just two days after her shutout against Minnesota. Then last Thursday, Saxton benched her after just 25 minutes in favor of sophomore goalkeeper Gabrielle Gauruder.
Gauruder went on to hold the Wolverines scoreless for the remaining of the season, but the Spartans fell, 2-1.
No matter who is in goal, Gauruder said the defense needs to be more organized in future games.
“From the back line perspective, we need to get better, especially on the goalie’s part, to be more organized before the attack to prevent attacks for the future,” she said. “As general as a team, we need to be more dangerous as a team offensively, we need to create chances more.”
Saxton said this week’s practices will prove who will start Saturday in Columbus. He also said only having to focus on one game is much like a football bye week in it gives MSU a couple extra days in practice.
“We go down there with one mission and not have to worry about anything after that,” Saxton said. “(We) get a couple days rest afterward which will be good for the following weekend.”
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