The women’s soccer team visited the Michigan Wolverines in Ann Arbor on Friday night, and in front of a sold-out crowd, lost a 2-1 heart-breaker in the game’s final minute.
“I feel for the players,” head coach Tom Saxton said. “Once again, we were involved in a great college soccer match.”
MSU (6-4-1 overall, 0-4-1 Big Ten) and U-M (8-3 overall, 4-1 Big Ten) played an intense game and in the first half, though both teams struggled with scoring.
The Michigan defense pressured the Spartans, as MSU head coach Tom Saxton expected, and they managed a few early steals which slowed the Spartan attack.
The Wolverine offense was aggressive right out of the gate, and in the game’s 17th minute, sophomore forward Nicky Waldeck had a scoring chance from short distance. MSU deflected the ball away and on the ensuing corner kick, U-M had another great chance but the shot hit the post, and the Spartans escaped an early deficit.
MSU’s first real scoring chance came with 10 minutes left in the first half, when a header from freshman forward sailed high of the goal.
The second half started with fireworks, and U-M scored less than a minute into the period. Junior midfielder/forward Corrine Harris put a shot in the upper left-hand corner of the net past MSU redshirt senior keeper .
The Spartans responded with their own offensive pressure and senior forward had a sequence of quality crosses to set up her teammates. Finally, in the 56th minute, freshman forward turned a deflected cross from Wester into a goal from the middle of the U-M penalty box.
“We’ve shown that in-game resilience and the ability to bounce back throughout the year,” Saxton said. “I was really pleased with the way we settled down and came back at them and got the equalizer.”
As the second half progressed, MSU’s Clem and junior defender each made goal-saving defensive stops.
It appeared as though MSU was headed for another overtime contest, but with just under 30 seconds to play in the match, U-M’s Waldeck slipped past two Spartans and put a shot past an outstretched Clem to notch the game-winning goal.
“We’ve got to make the plays in the box. It’s that simple.” Saxton said. “We did not get on the other end of several entries down there, and it was a deflection on a block, but still, they put it in and we didn’t.”
For the Spartans, it was a familiar ending to another competitive game. The team has now lost four of its last five games, and each has been a defeat either in overtime or in the final two minutes of regulation.
“For us as a coaching staff, we’ve got to work on the kids’ psyche now because this has been a broken record for us for the last two weeks, and we’ve got to get it turned around,” Saxton said.