While the Michigan State Women’s Soccer team’s Sunday match against Dayton may have lacked a winner, it sure didn’t lack excitement.
After a scoreless opening 45 minutes, the Spartans were unable to capitalize on two goals in the second half, surrendering two separate equalizers to the Flyers. The match ended in a 2-2 draw despite MSU controlling the time of possession and putting up over twice as many shots.
“It’s a disappointing result to take,” Head Women’s Soccer Coach Jeff Hosler said. “You score two goals in a game, you should win it. It doesn’t matter who you’re playing against.”
The Spartans entered their final match of non-conference play fresh off a 2-1 thriller at NC State Thursday – the program’s first-ever true road win against an ACC team.
After last Sunday’s loss to Notre Dame, Hosler said his team wasn’t “dangerous” enough to take control of the match. However, in the first half against Dayton on Sunday, the Spartans controlled the time of possession and shot totals.
The Flyers were able to get a number of clean looks at the net against MSU’s defense, albeit a smaller sample size. Two out of three of Dayton’s first-half shots on goal came from counter-attacks, both saved by MSU graduate student goalie Kaitlyn Parks.
An eventful first half was not reflected by the score, with the teams deadlocked at zero as they entered their respective locker rooms. Despite being held scoreless in the opening 45 minutes, MSU held a staggering 14-3 lead on shots at the half’s conclusion.
It didn’t take long for the Spartans to get on the board out of the halftime break. Just six minutes into the second half, MSU senior forward Ranya Senhaji found freshman forward/midfielder Bella Najera to give the Spartans a 1-0 lead.
The score marked Najera’s third goal in four games.
“It’s undeniable [Bella] is our very best player on the team,” Hosler said. “She’s the most consistent player, she provides the most effort, she makes the biggest plays when the team needs them and she’s willing to put herself in those situations.”
After the Flyers answered 13 minutes later with a tying goal on a penalty kick by Dayton fifth-year defender Mackenzie Lutz, MSU broke the tie once more. On a free kick, MSU senior midfielder Justina Gaynor sent in a gorgeous cross to fellow senior MJ Andrus, who finished off the set-piece with a header into the bottom right corner. The Spartans led 2-1 with just 12 minutes to play.
MSU couldn’t even catch its breath before the score was tied yet again, as Dayton senior midfielder Madison Wilson found the bottom right corner not even a minute after Andrus’ tiebreaker.
The Spartans were on the attack for the rest of the match but could not come away with the winning goal. In the end, a 2-2 draw served as a disappointing one for MSU, yet one that can be built on as the Spartans look to tighten up their late-game execution.
This marked the first draw on the Spartans’ season thus far, moving them to 5-2-1 entering Big Ten Conference play. Hosler identified consistency, intensity, passion and overall execution as areas he’d like to clean up heading into the “meat” of the season.
“We made them look really dangerous at moments because we shot ourselves in the foot with turnovers,” Hosler said. “[Dayton] is a very good transition team that can capitalize.”
MSU begins Big Ten play on Sunday, Sept. 17, as the Spartans host Ohio State for a 1 p.m. match at DeMartin Stadium.