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Women's soccer falls 2-1 to Indiana, suffers 8th straight loss

March 31, 2021
<p>A Northwestern player moves with the ball against the Spartans on March 25, 2021.</p>

A Northwestern player moves with the ball against the Spartans on March 25, 2021.

Photo by Devin Anderson-Torrez | The State News

Michigan State women's soccer came into their final road game looking to prove they are better than just one win.

With their last three losses all coming by one-goal margins, MSU needed to close out and find a way to get over the hump.

After Indiana struck first in the 23rd minute, MSU tied it but eventually fell on an early second-half goal that sealed the deal in a 2-1 loss in Bloomington. The Spartans were without star forward Gia Wahlberg, who was scratched from the lineup just prior to the start of the match.

"I thought it was another strong performance, as the last couple have been," head coach Tom Saxton said post-game. "Unfortunately, the result stands, but I think that we were pleased with this effort over the 90 minutes (more) than we were in the last couple of weeks."

The Spartans' only goal came off an assist from Danielle Stephan – her fourth of the year – as she found Sydney Kloosterman for a strike that evened the score in the 37th minute before Indiana scored quickly during the second half to take a lead they wouldn't lose.

The Spartans record drops to 1-8-1 on the year, with their only win coming against Nebraska back on Feb. 25. MSU will face off with Ohio State to close out the season at 1 p.m. on Saturday at home.

No Wahlberg, MSU's offense struggles again

Like many of the Spartans games this season, things didn't start off on a high note. Indiana (6-4) controlled the tempo early, and in the 23rd minute, the door opened for IU – as two freshmen teamed for the goal that would give the Hoosiers an early lead.

Hoosier freshman and forward Jen Blitchok saw an opportunity and passed the ball to set up her teammate, freshman forward Gabi Rennie, who tucked a shot into the lower-left corner to put the Hoosiers on the board first just 23 minutes in.

A mere 14 minutes later, Stephan found Kloosterman, and it was 1-1 just before halftime. Coincidentally, the two goals were Rennie and Kloosterman's first goals of the season.

Indiana followed up the early goal with their second in the 47th minute: as Hoosier midfielder, Avery Lockwood, put one in the net on a penalty kick to give IU a lead. Saxton said he was bewildered at the penalty call, unsure of where it came from and why.

Saxton said they know they have a tournament ahead of them where anything could happen, so keeping their attitude right and the team spirit up is more essential than anything else.

"It was an opportunity to grow and I think we did that," Saxton said. "It wasn't perfect, but I think we made some steps in the right direction."

Saxton said post-game that they had scratched Wahlberg last minute, prior to kickoff and replaced her with senior forward Alexandra Thomas. He also said the Spartans had a great lift off the bench during the game and that, even though the defensive midfield rotation had been stripped down to primarily freshman defender Zivana Labovic, the underclassmen has handled things well.

The Spartans will host Ohio State (5-1-3) at home on Saturday, April 3, for their final game of the 2021 season.

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