Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Michigan State sophomore forward MJ Andrus downs the Gophers with minutes to spare

September 26, 2021
<p>Sophomore defender Zivana Labovic scores a goal on a penalty kick. The Spartans defeated Minnesota 2-1, on Sept. 26, 2021.</p>

Sophomore defender Zivana Labovic scores a goal on a penalty kick. The Spartans defeated Minnesota 2-1, on Sept. 26, 2021.

Photo by Devin Anderson-Torrez | The State News

After a tough loss this past Thursday, the Spartans we're back and better than ever at DeMartin Stadium as sophomore forward MJ Andrus found the back of the net to down Minnesota, 2-1.

"I think Thursday showed us where we are," Michigan State Head Coach Jeff Hosler said. "We weren't detailed or disciplined enough to get our result on that day, but it also gave us a glimpse at who we can be and I think that confidence carried over today despite the loss (on Thursday).

MSU sophomore defender Zivana Labovic was the star player in the first half. She put up multiple shots and was awarded a free kick before putting up a goal for the Spartans in the remaining three minutes of the half leaving the score MSU 1-0.

Hailing from Schereville, Indiana, Labovic found a way to make an impact on the offensive end despite her role being on the opposite half of the field.

"Starting off we knew we needed a goal early on which is why I'm happy we got that penalty kick," Labovic said. "And then to be able to come back from that tie with the goal was really important. I am proud of us I think we did really well."

MSU senior defender Danielle Stephan also played strong defense in today's game. Defending each near goal, she even took a few offensive shots. Stephan credited the backline's solid day to the grit and determination they had throughout the afternoon.

"I think it really attests to the grit that we have and our ability to say, 'No, we're not losing this we're going to keep going,'" Stephan said. "Tactically, we were really prepared and knew what we needed to do, where we needed to be and how we needed to get the win done. It was really about our ability to execute which we did amazingly.

As the Spartans entered into the second, the pressure was on. The tension is high and both teams had the same goal in mind: the win.

"Coach knew that we could get more out of this game," Labovic said. "He wanted us to score as many goals as we could and we really wanted to secure that win. So at halftime, it was really making sure we got those goals and getting through to it."

With 10 minutes remaining in the second half, the Gophers struck first and put up a goal, resulting in a tie of 1-1.

With six minutes left in the half, sophomore midfielder/forward MJ Andrus found herself on the receiving end of a tipped cross heading towards the net and Andrus put it away to lift the Spartans to victory.

"I am feeling so excited right now," Andrus said. "We've been working hard as a team and I've been working hard individually in practice and some extra work off the field. I am just so humbled that this opportunity came and blessed to be out there playing."

This win was a sign of maturity for a Spartans team coming off of their first loss of the season, and their coach gleamed with pride over the win.

"I think it was a big sign of growth for us to having resiliency and seeing that equalizer in 10 minutes left," Hosler said. "It was important to keep our focus, keep our foot on the gas and go for it."

Despite the win, the Spartans were without graduate student forward Ava Cook due to an injury she suffered after colliding with Minnesota sophomore forward Maddie Baker, resulting in limited game time for Cook. Her status for the next game is unknown.

The Spartans are hitting the road for their next game at Nebraska on Sept. 30 at 7:05 p.m. and will look to continue their hot start.

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