Coming off of a tough loss in their Big Ten opener, the women’s soccer team lost another tight battle to Minnesota, 1-0.
MSU (6-2 overall, 0-2 Big Ten) played its third straight overtime game, but for the second time this weekend, the Spartans lost in extra time.
On Friday, , and less than 48 hours later, Minnesota essentially repeated what the Badgers did before.
In the fourth minute of overtime, Minnesota’s Josee Stiever scored off a penalty kick from Ashley Pafko to hand the Spartans their second consecutive Big Ten loss.
As the ball entered off the corner, MSU appeared to be confused and out of position, as redshirt senior goalkeeper came out of the net. When Minnesota finally gained control of the ball, only a few MSU defenders had a chance to stop the shot.
“I think Courtney probably needed to get something on it. If the goalkeeper exits on a corner, they’ve got to get a touch on the ball,” head coach Tom Saxton said.
Both teams struggled to get quality scoring chances throughout the game. In the first half, Minnesota’s best opportunity to score was thwarted in the 15th minute, when Clem made a high-flying save and punched away a very accurate shot on goal.
Minnesota played a typical Big Ten game and brought a lot of physicality, much like the Badgers did on Friday. They pushed and shoved the Spartans around, but MSU held strong.
MSU junior defender collided with a Minnesota player in the 58th minute. Both players went down, but Gjonaj drew a yellow card from the referee.
MSU was missing senior midfielder and redshirt junior forward due to injury. The Spartans were missing key players in a key game, providing a combination that definitely led to some struggles.
“I think it was a grinding game, completely different from Friday with the tempo and the styles,” Saxton said. “ In that grinding game, you’ve got to be physical and I think maybe the fact that we’ve got a couple people beat up right now made us a little thinner than we have been all year.”
Although MSU is off to a rough start in the conference, the team has proven that it can compete with the Big Ten. Taking two difficult teams to overtime is not to be overlooked, especially by head coach Saxton.
“We should be proud of where we are, even after Friday,” Saxton said. “It is tough, we’re all humans, we missed a couple opportunities at home.”
MSU senior midfielder , who fired three shots on goal against Minnesota, remains optimistic after a tough conference start.
“You always have letdowns, and unfortunately we lost both games this weekend. Hopefully, next weekend we can come back and get some goals and prove that we’re one of the best teams in the Big ten,” Wester said.