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Women's soccer looks to rally season against Purdue

October 17, 2013

Every game is becoming more and more crucial for the women’s soccer team.

After starting the season out 6-0-2, the Spartans (7-5-2 overall, 1-5-0 Big Ten) have been in a tailspin since conference play.

Struggling to score all year, MSU’s offense has had even more trouble scoring in conference play, with just two goals in their last four matches. They’ve attempted 35 shots during the Spartans’ current four-game losing streak.

“We have struggled to score against tough Big Ten opponents, and that’ll continue to be our emphasis,” head coach Tom Saxton said. “There’s always momentum in college sports, and if we can get a couple goals, I think we can get moving in the right direction.”

MSU will try to get moving back in the right direction when they face Purdue (8-5-1, 3-3-0)mk at 4 p.m. Friday. They also will get another chance Sunday when they face Indiana (10-3-1, 3-3-0).

The Spartans currently sit in last place in the Big Ten, tied with Northwestern (3-9-2, 1-5-0). They are five points out of making the Big Ten Tournament and most likely will need at least two wins in their final five games to make their first conference tournament since 2011.

Despite sitting in last place, the Spartans are not giving up.

“We’re all feeling like we have an awesome chance at this,” sophomore midfielder Kirsten Evans said. “We’re all really positive, and we feel like if we keep this momentum going that we’ll do a fine job.”mk

With only five games leftmk, the starting goalkeeping spot remains undecided.

After starting for much of the season, junior goalkeeper Courtney Clem has struggled in the net after a career game against Minnesota (9-4-1, 2-3-1) — her sixth-career shutout and MSU’s first Big Ten win this season.

Saxton pulled Clem in favor of sophomore Gabrielle Gauruder after just 25 minutes of MSU’s rival match against Michigan (10-2-1, 4-1-1)mk. Clem gave up two goals in just 15 minutes against the Wolverines.

Gauruder came in and kept MSU in the game, but the Spartans couldn’t muster enough offense and lost, 2-1.

Three days later, the coaching staff decided to give Gauruder the starting nod against Iowa. She made a career-high 11 saves in just her third career start. However, tied 0-0 midway through the second overtime, Iowa got a lucky deflection to score the game winner and beat MSU,

After her solid outing, Saxton said the following week of practices would decide the starting goalkeeping spot for the Ohio State game. The spot eventually went to Clem, but after giving up three goals, Saxton once again pulled Clem in favor of Gauruder for the final 10 minutes of the game.

Saxton said the spot will be decided on a game-by-game basis, but said in the past year Gauruder has elevated her game to the point where she’s a legitimate starting Big Ten goalkeeper.

“We went into the game against Ohio State and we went back to Courtney Clem, but we made it clear to both we really felt like we had two good keepers,” Saxton said. “That’ll continue to be the case and will be made on a game-by-game basis, and I’m confident with either one of them.”

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