The dreary conditions on the field at DeMartin Soccer Stadium Sunday afternoon mirrored the Spartans’ pace-of-play, as Michigan State womens’ soccer fell to Ohio State 1-0.
With the victory, Ohio State improves to 7-5-1 (4-2-1 Big Ten), and keeps MSU (5-6-3, 0-5-2) winless in conference play.
A first half riddled by fouls and a slick surface contributed to a limited number of scoring opportunities for either side. And coach Tom Saxton believes his team will have to prepare for similar conditions in future matchups.
Saxton also attributed his teams' inability to overcome OSU's physical play to fatigue, as the Spartans played their second game in three days on Sunday, with the first being a 1-2 loss to Penn State Friday at DeMartin Stadium.
“That’s Big Ten Soccer,” Saxton said in reference to the Buckeyes' physicality. “Second days of weekends are energy days, they’re effort days. I thought some of our players gave fantastic effort and fought through those physical battles and we were a little bit sloppy in other areas.”
MSU’s lone shot on goal in the first half came in the 23rd minute from junior midfielder Hannah Jones, and was easily gathered by OSU goalkeeper Devon Kerr.
Senior goalie Reilley Ott, on the other hand, had a busier afternoon, as she made one diving stop and saved two other shots in the first half.
The Spartans' lack of creating chances was exacerbated by the game’s lone goal, a strike by sophomore forward Marissa Birzon to the far side of the net past Ott in the 50th minute.
“Reilley has been great, the goal that we conceded certainly wasn’t on her,” Saxton said. "She's having a good year and we need to keep that going, because everybody in the Big Ten has to play good defense first and we feel like we do that for the most part. "
The Spartans failed to generate more than one shot on goal in each half, as they finished the second half without creating a legitimate scoring chance.
The Spartans’ only second half shot on target came from freshman forward Camryn Evans, whom the Spartans failed to incorporate into the offense consistently throughout the half.
“We can’t use (wet playing conditions) as an excuse for why the result was what it was. We left chances out there,” Evans said.
The Spartans’ low-energy showing against the Buckeyes is something they will look to avoid entering the home stretch of the regular season.
“We just weren’t good enough today. It’s that simple,” Saxton said. "We just made too many mistakes. When you're on a second day of a tight weekend you have to be smart, and our communication wasn't good early on … we just have to do the little things better, and it starts with communication."
The Spartans will look to earn their first win in Big Ten play this season when they travel to play Iowa on Oct. 12. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m.