It was a beautiful sunny April day in East Lansing as the Michigan State field hockey team hosted No. 4 Michigan at Ralph Young Field. Their in-state rivals spoiled the day though, defeating Michigan State 3-0.
The Wolverines came out hot out of the gate, gaining the lead early on a goal by forward Sarah Pyrtek 4:30 into the game.
U-of-M continued to pressure for the remainder of the quarter, until the last few minutes when MSU was finally able to gain some extended time in the attacking half. Their play was highlighted by a neat move by sophomore midfielder Merel Hanssen who went in-between the legs of a Michigan defender that drew some ‘oohs and ahhs’ from friends and family in the crowd. She played it just a tad too hard though, and the ball rolled out of bounds about 30 feet from the net.
For the final three-quarters of the game, it was all controlled by the Wolverines with a constant pepper of shots on MSU starting keeper Jade Arundell. She stood well making multiple sprawling saves, but Michigan was able to beat her two more times on a pair of goals off of penalty corners.
The first came in the third quarter by midfielder Kayla Reed that was knocked in from the far post off of a deflection. The next came in the final quarter by midfielder Anouk Veen on a blast from the left circle. Arundell finished the afternoon with 11 stops.
"The thing we say with all of our keepers is doing your job which is making the simple saves as they are happening and she did that today," head coach Helen Knull said after the game.
The defensive showcase by the Wolverines was an impressive one. It started with the field players, who swallowed up like a vice seemingly every time the ball crossed midfield. Starting goalkeeper Anna Spieker barely broke a sweat facing not a single shot on goal, and only one shot attempt by defenseman Devin Reilly that went wide of the net in the fourth quarter. The Wolverines had 11 penalty corners while the Spartans had zero.
"Michigan is strong defensively, but I think we also did not help ourselves at times by the simple mistrack of the ball," Knull said. "Those are balls that we need to be receiving and do something with."
With the shutout loss, the Spartans have now gone four consecutive games without a goal. Their last goal was March 19 in a 5-2 loss to Penn State.
"I think defensively we had some players come up with some good tackling and did well in our pressing, but again if you want to win games you got to score goals," Knull said.
Michigan (6-2) and Michigan State (1-9) will conclude the series Sunday at 1 p.m. in East Lansing. Friday’s game is the only one that will count toward the Big Ten Standings.