It was just a few weeks ago, on March 25 to be exact, when MSU played their last overtime game in a loss to Northwestern. In another overtime thriller, MSU was unable to avoid another late-game loss today as they fell to Rutgers 1-0 in a hard-fought game.
The game started out slow, as neither offense was able to pick up any steam in the entire first half. MSU’s offense in particular, was struggling to create opportunities. The Spartans ended the first half with only three shots to Rutgers’ five. The lone bright spot in the offense was senior Michelle Herring, who came out the gate firing, getting off a solid shot in the second minute. Herring finished the game with three shots and played aggressive all night, pushing forward trying to create a spark for the MSU offense.
MSU goalkeeper Lauren Kozal also had another outstanding day, and it began with two back-to-back saves in the 30th and 31st minutes to keep MSU from falling behind early.
As the first half ended, still tied at 0-0, both teams would need a big offensive spark to survive and extend their season.
The second half brought more of the same for MSU. Their offense seemed to be out of sorts and unorganized. Players were often bunched together or out of position on runs down the field, in turn creating opportunities for the Scarlet Knights as the half went on.
It was clear that MSU was missing one of their key pieces, junior Gia Wahlberg, who is not only last year’s leading scorer, but a key part of this team’s offensive game plan game-in and game-out.
Despite Rutgers picking up their tempo and finishing the game with 17 shots, Kozal stood strong in goal and did her best to keep the Spartans alive, saving shot after shot creating a one-person wall in front of the goal.
MSU had their closest chance to a goal in the 80th minute as Herring and a Rutgers defender got tangled up in the Rutgers box. As both players fell to the ground, Herring was called for a foul. The call could have gone either way and while MSU retaliated against the call, the game continued, scoreless in the final minutes of regulation.
At the end of regulation, the score was still tied at zero. It wasn’t until the second overtime period, in the 105th minute, when Rutgers would finally sneak a goal past Kozal. MSU failed to really gain possession of the ball in the overtime periods and their offensive struggles were bound to catch up with them.
As they advanced the ball to the left of the box, Rutgers crossed the ball into the middle where forward Amirah Ali hit a header into the goal.
Kozal finished the day with seven saves, but in the end, MSU didn’t have enough offense to back up their defense, finishing the day with only five shots, only two of them being shots on goal.
MSU ended their season on a ten-game losing streak. With so many close and heart-breaking losses during the streak, the Spartans look forward to recovering and returning to a more regular season next year as they look to bounce back from a tough year.
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