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Women's soccer will look to continue strong start against Eastern on Friday

August 28, 2014
	<p>Penn State forward Raquel Rodriguez runs the ball past junior midfielder Megan Marsack Nov. 1, 2013, at DeMartin Stadium at Old College Field. <span class="caps">MSU</span> lost to Penn State, 3-0. Margaux Forster/The State News</p>

Penn State forward Raquel Rodriguez runs the ball past junior midfielder Megan Marsack Nov. 1, 2013, at DeMartin Stadium at Old College Field. MSU lost to Penn State, 3-0. Margaux Forster/The State News

Two scorching hot women’s soccer teams are set to collide in a game that will plot MSU’s steady defense against a dangerous Eastern Michigan offense.

The Spartans (2-0) will take on Eastern Michigan (2-0) on Friday at 2 p.m.

MSU has leaned on its solid defensive play thus far, and senior goalkeeper Courtney Clem has played a major role in the team’s undefeated start. Posting a shutout last game against a talented Cal State Fullerton team, Clem will have her hands full with Eastern.

“We had to defend a number of direct balls into the box this weekend and did really well with our challenges and our urgency in front of goal. We’ll need more of that Friday against a really good Eastern team,” Head Coach Tom Saxton said of his team’s opening weekend in a team release.

Coming off of an opening weekend against conference contenders in San Diego State and Cal State Fullerton, MSU will see another legitimate competitor in Eastern.

“There certainly won’t be any letdown in the quality of opposition,” Saxton said.

Eastern has ripped through its first two opponents, posting two 2-0 shutouts against Fordham and Indiana. The Eagles have proven they can compete with the Big Ten, and senior forward Angela Vultaggio will look to continue her superb play.

Vultaggio was named MAC Offensive Player of the Week for the fourth time in her career, after scoring three of the team’s four goals in the opening games. With three goals in seven shots, Vultaggio is connecting on goal.

Vultaggio will bring her MAC weekly honor into the game, where Clem is also the reigning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week. It should be an interesting match-up between the two conference award winners and a great opportunity for both players to establish their talent even further.

On the offensive side of the ball for the Spartan, Saxton has said that he hopes to see improvement in the team’s attack. He is hoping to get more people involved, which should lead to more scoring chances. He also wants to see the team do a better job on offensive restarts.

MSU has been outshot this season by its opponents, 48-15, and has also been outnumbered in corner kicks, 18-5.

Freshman forward Jamie Cheslik and junior forward Allyson Krause have been bright spots for the Spartans. Cheslik has scored in both games and Krause has assisted goals in both games.

In 15 matchups between MSU and EMU, the Spartans won 11 games, most recently in a 3-2 victory last September. Then-redshirt sophomore defender Mary Kathryn Fiebernitz scored on two penalty kicks, including the game winner in the 88th minute.

Eastern, who battled back from a 2-0 deficit, proved to be an unrelenting opponent. Then-redshirt sophomore Gabrielle Gauruder was in net for the Spartans.

As far as non-conference games go, Saxton’s main goal this year is to gain confidence and try to stay healthy heading into Big Ten play. MSU will be challenged by a tough Eastern squad, but win or lose, the game will serve as a great opportunity to improve on early season flaws and gain the confidence for which Saxton is looking.

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