MSU women’s soccer will visit Big Ten newcomers Rutgers and Maryland this weekend, but the Spartans are not exactly looking to give them a warm welcome to the conference.
MSU (6-2 overall, 0-2 Big Ten) is hungry for its first conference win, after falling in its first two games last weekend.
Rutgers (4-1 overall, 0-1 Big Ten) and Maryland (3-2-1 overall, 1-0 Big Ten) opened their inaugural Big Ten seasons with a game against each other. Maryland came away with the home victory, and defeated then-No. 25 Rugers, 2-0. Rutgers has since dropped from the .
MSU head coach Tom Saxton knows he will see two quality opponents this weekend.
“We’ve put in quite a bit of time watching their head-to-head game,” Saxton said. “They both look like great Big Ten teams. I’ve watched six different games, both look like athletic and talented teams.”
The Scarlet Knights are 3-0 at home this season, and they are second in the Big Ten with 2.40 goals per game. Senior forwards Amy Pietrangelo and Stefanie Scholz lead the team with three goals each.
Freshman goalkeeper Casey Murphy has started all five games for Rutgers. She has been solid so far, only allowing three goals to date.
MSU’s offense hit a wall last weekend, after scoring only one goal against Wisconsin and failing to put one on the board against Minnesota. The defense also had some lapses, as it gave up two game-winning goals in overtime.
“I think we have to sure up our play on restarts,” Saxton said. “We had a good session (on Tuesday); everyone feels accountable.”
Maryland will also provide a challenge for MSU, as eight different players have scored at least once for the Terrapins. MSU will counter Maryland’s wide array of offensive contributors with their own weapon: . The redshirt senior has recorded a conference-best 43 saves in eight games.
MSU will play Friday and Sunday games for the second consecutive weekend.
Saxton sees the weekend as a chance to get an important Big Ten win, but understands that MSU will have to work for a victory.
“You’ve got to take every match as an opportunity,” Saxton said. “It’s a difficult road trip, so we don’t want to put too much pressure on ourselves. Thank goodness the games are spaced out more. We’re pretty beat up right now.”
Senior midfielder and redshirt junior forward both suffered injuries last weekend for the Spartans. Marsack will not travel with the team this weekend due to a badly bruised ankle.
Saxton did not rule out the possibility of Vogel playing. He noted that both are a very important part of the offense and their absence will be a blow to the team.
The Spartans will play Rutgers on Friday at 7 p.m. in New Brunswick, NJ., before traveling to College Park, Md., on Sunday for a 1 p.m. game.