Monday, September 25, 2023

Women's soccer loses to Northwestern, losing streak hits six games

March 25, 2021

The Spartan women's soccer team came out and controlled possession in the first half, keeping the ball on Northwestern’s side of the field for the majority of the half. 

But ultimately MSU was not able to close out the game and lost their sixth consecutive game.

In a marathon game against the Wildcats, NU outlasted the Spartans 1-0 in overtime. 

Despite controlling possession, the Spartans played a very patient style of offense and took very few shots. It was obvious early on that the winner of this game would be whoever took advantage of the limited opportunities that presented themselves. 

In the 27th minute, MSU’s Gia Wahlberg tried to take advantage of one of those opportunities as she nearly gave the Spartans an early lead, but just inches away from scoring, Northwestern goalie Mackenzie Wood took the ball right from under Wahlberg to keep the score at 0-0. 

Still at a tie at the end of the first half, the offense of both teams looked to turn up the pressure in the second half. In the first, the teams combined for only five shots.

The offense did indeed pick up for both teams in the second half. Northwestern came out and controlled the pace of the game, getting downfield and getting corner kicks to start the half. 

MSU would counter in the 61st minute as Wahlberg, who played solid offensively all day, put another shot on goal. This time the ball rolled just past the left goalpost, and once again MSU missed the opportunity to take the lead. 

As the 90-minute mark approached, the game still neck and neck, Northwestern would nearly put the Spartans away in the closing minutes. In the 86th minute, a dangerous cross approached the MSU box, and just as the ball came near a crowd of Northwestern players, primed for at least a solid header on goal, Lauren Kozal would extend above them and take the cross for herself. Just two minutes later, Kozal would make another game-saving play as she tipped a header just over the crossbar to once again save the game for MSU.

Kozal led the Spartans all day, whether it was with her play or with her vocal leadership, organizing the field serving and commanding the movement of her teammates as she watched them attack. Thanks to Kozal, the game headed to overtime, still with a score of 0-0. 

It wouldn’t take long for the game-ending blow to be delivered as Northwestern capitalized on a counter-attack, pressing wide and crossing it into the middle, sneaking in the winning goal. Just like that, the Spartans would lose a hard-fought game that they controlled for about 80 minutes, just 10 minutes too short. 

Despite this being their sixth straight loss, head coach Tom Saxton praised his players and emphasized that they must keep their attitudes high after a rough stretch of games.

The Spartans get back to it at DeMartin Field on Sunday as they host Illinois and look to stop their losing streak from extending to seven games.

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