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Tough stretch continues for women's soccer after shutout by Iowa at home on Thursday, 1-0

October 2, 2014
<p>Senior forward Paige Wester fights for the ball against  Iowa midfielder Anne Thomas during the game against the University of Iowa on Oct. 2, 2014, at DeMartin Soccer Stadium at Old College Field. The Spartans lost to the Hawkeyes 0-1. Raymond Williams/The State News</p>

Senior forward Paige Wester fights for the ball against Iowa midfielder Anne Thomas during the game against the University of Iowa on Oct. 2, 2014, at DeMartin Soccer Stadium at Old College Field. The Spartans lost to the Hawkeyes 0-1. Raymond Williams/The State News

Photo by Raymond Williams | The State News

MSU women's soccer's tough stretch continued Thursday evening, as the team lost 1-0 to the visiting Iowa Hawkeyes.

MSU (6-5-1 overall, 0-5-1 Big Ten) seemed to be lethargic throughout the game, and players were often moved with a lack of urgency.

“I thought after the first half hour, we didn’t deserve to get a result today,” head coach Tom Saxton said. “Every game we’ve played to this point, we’ve played well enough to win the game…something wasn’t right for us mentally, we weren’t on.”

MSU came out with early offensive pressure, but failed to break through in the first half with a goal. At the beginning of the game, MSU moved around more on the offensive end, and players were circulating in front of the net to set up scoring chances.

Iowa failed to score in the first half, but the Hawkeyes put up 11 shots to MSU’s five.

Iowa broke the even score and notched their first and only goal about seven minutes into the second half. Senior defender Melanie Pickert scored off of a corner kick from sophomore defender Corey Burns.

“We need to really work on marking up in the box, bottom line,” junior defender Alexandra Gjonaj said. “One of their players got off of our defender, got a head on it, and easy as that, we’re going to get scored on.”

MSU failed to answer the goal, and for the fifth time in the last six games, lost by one goal. Offensive production has been scarce in the team’s first six Big Ten games as well, managing only two goals over the stretch.

“We just need to finish,” senior midfielder Paige Wester said of the team’s offensive attack. “Whether it’s me, Jamie (Cheslik) or Ally (Krause), we just need to finish.”

The lack of goal support has been tough on the Spartan defense.

“It puts a lot of pressure on us because we’re not keeping possession in the final third and scoring goals is putting a lot of pressure on everyone defensively,” redshirt junior defender Mary Kathryn Fiebernitz said.

At this point, the MSU coaching staff is doing everything they can to right the ship. Saxton has identified players, such as senior defender/midfielder Nicole Caruso and Gjonaj, that can be moved around in the line-up in order to generate some offensive output. A complication to this plan, however, is the Spartans’ health.

“We really don’t have a one hundred percent healthy player in our back line,” Saxton said. “None of them are ruled out but we’re going to have to first decide what we’re going to do back there.”

MSU will need to regroup quickly, as a 1 p.m. Sunday match against reigning Big Ten champion Nebraska is in sight.

“It’s going to take everyone, whether you’re on the field or on the sideline,” Fiebernitz said. “It’s a Sunday game, so it’s going to be very tough mentally and physically. I think that everyone needs to be energized, and we need to put this behind us and move forward.”

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