With a much-needed victory over Nebraska, the women’s soccer team can finally relax.
After a stretch of disappointing losses, MSU (7-5-1 overall, 1-5-1 Big Ten) jumped out to its first lead against a conference opponent and never looked back, cruising to a 3-1 victory over the Cornhuskers.
MSU struck first when freshman forward was fouled in the box, which set up a penalty kick for redshirt junior defender Mary Kathryn Fiebernitz in the 28th minute.
Fiebernitz, who has been automatic on penalty kicks this year and last, drilled it and beat the Nebraska keeper with a shot in the bottom right corner of the net.
“Some days you feel if you can just flip one switch, things will start to go your way,” head coach Tom Saxton said. “It was a legitimate penalty and Jamie set herself up so well and got taken down by the keeper. It was a good start.”
With the Spartans up 1-0, Nebraska countered with a great scoring chance three minutes later. A Cornhusker shot crept awfully close to breaking the goal line before MSU junior midfielder cleared the ball away.
MSU escaped with the lead and scored again in the 36th minute. Senior midfielder got free on a breakaway and turned a pass from Cheslik into a Spartan goal. MSU took a 2-0 lead into halftime.
“It felt really good,” Marsack said. “It changed everybody’s attitude. We were up 2-0 and we haven’t been up in a while, so everyone got happy and tried harder.”
Marsack, who had been previously sidelined with injuries, impressed her coach in the victory.
“To see Megan, who hasn’t played much at all in the Big Ten season, to come on ... and score a great goal was really good to see,” Saxton said. “I felt like we got some momentum at that point.”
In the second half, Cheslik extended MSU’s lead with a goal in the 60th minute and gave the team a little extra breathing room. Cheslik’s goal was her team-leading seventh of the year.
“You go into halftime 2-0 — we always say it’s the most dangerous score in soccer — and to come out and get settled in and get that third goal takes the pressure off of everybody,” Saxton said.
Nebraska ended MSU’s shutout bid with six minutes remaining, when sophomore forward Jaycie Johnson beat MSU’s redshirt senior keeper on a penalty kick.
The win was long-overdue for the Spartans, and it could serve as a springboard into the final third of the season.
“It’s a good confidence booster,” Fiebernitz said. “We can play well — we have been in every single game. The only thing we need to do is put the ball in the back of the net.”
The Spartans will have a week to reload for their next game against Purdue, scheduled for 7 p.m. on Oct. 11 in West Lafayette, Ind.