In a battle of two unbeaten teams, MSU and No. 9 Wisconsin needed overtime for the Badgers to score the game winner in a 2-1 contest.
Wisconsin (7-0 overall, 1-0 Big Ten) freshman midfielder Becca Harrison netted both goals for her team, and her game winner came off a corner kick in the first minute of overtime. Off the corner, the ball bounced around before Harrison gained possession, beat her defender, and sent a shot past a swarm of players for the near-post goal.
“We felt great going into the overtime,” head coach Tom Saxton said. “It was a fantastic college soccer match. Unfortunately, it didn’t end well for us in overtime, but (it was) a great match both ways.”
Wisconsin scored the game’s first goal in the 19th minute, on a goal from freshman midfielder Becca Harrison. Kinley McNicoll, the Big Ten’s reigning Offensive Player of the Week, assisted the goal.
MSU (6-1 overall, 0-1 Big Ten) answered in the second half when junior defender Alexandra Gjonaj fed freshman forward Jamie Cheslik with a ball over top. Cheslik did the rest, and chipped a shot over the outstretched Wisconsin goalkeeper from 20 yards out to tie the game at one.
“In the first half we were struggling getting balls through, so at halftime, we talked about playing balls in early and getting them in behind,” Cheslik said. “Alex (Gjonaj) found a way to do that, and the goalie was out pretty far so I just chipped it over her.”
Cheslik’s goal in the 57th minute improved her team-leading totals for both goals (five) and points (11). Gjonaj’s assist was her third of the year.
The game remained scoreless the rest of the second half and regulation ended with the score tied at one. MSU entered its second consecutive overtime game, after defeating Western Michigan in double overtime last Sunday. When the Badgers poked the game winner through, it was over.
Although it was certainly a disappointing loss for the Spartans, they took the ninth ranked Badgers into overtime in an impressive overall performance.
“There’s highs and lows in the season, and this is a low, but there’s a lot of great things that we came away with,” junior defender Mary Kathryn Fiebernitz said. “We can only go up from here.”
The Spartans will play another Big Ten game against Minnesota on Sunday, leaving the team with a quick turnaround and little time to recover from a tough defeat.
“We have to learn from the good and the bad from that game,” Saxton said. “We’re going to be physically tired, so will Minnesota. We have to be mentally ready to go again, so that’s our job in the next 24 to 36 hours.”
MSU will stay in East Lansing for Sunday’s contest, which will be at 12 p.m. at DeMartin Stadium. The Golden Gophers have a 3-3 overall record, heading into a Friday night game against Michigan.