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Upset bid falls short for MSU field hockey against undefeated Rutgers squad

October 15, 2023
<p>Defender Celina Riccardo hits the ball down the field during the matchup against the Wolverines on Oct. 7, 2022.</p>

Defender Celina Riccardo hits the ball down the field during the matchup against the Wolverines on Oct. 7, 2022.

Photo by Olivia Hans | The State News

Michigan State’s field hockey team couldn’t come away with an upset over the undefeated No. 4 Rutgers team Sunday despite trailing by just one goal heading into the final quarter.

After surrendering an early goal, MSU found its footing defensively and stayed in it for the rest of the game. But in the end, Rutgers was more sound on both sides of the field and escaped East Lansing with a 3-1 victory. 

While demoralizing, the Spartans’ loss to the Scarlett Knights proved that they could hang around with one of the country’s best squads. MSU showed significant resolve and improvement in nearly all phases after suffering a 4-0 defeat to Penn State Friday.

“Friday we had a lot of unforced errors that were just on us … we had to clean up our own individual play to play collectively better as a team and today was much, much better,” MSU head field hockey coach Helen Knull said. “I thought today we fought the entire duration of the game, and I thought we were unlucky not to capitalize on some of the opportunities we had.”

Sunday continued MSU’s scheduling gauntlet as of late, as the Spartans faced off against their fifth consecutive opponent ranked in the top 15, with four of those ranked in the top 10.

The first quarter was all Scarlett Knights, who scored just four minutes in on a pretty finish by senior forward Bridy Molyneaux. Rutgers found the back of the net yet again in the second on a beautiful cross by graduate student midfielder Carly Snarski that found junior midfielder Guillermina Causarano for a tap-in goal. 

The Spartans, in danger of finding themselves in an insurmountable deficit, tightened up on both ends after trailing 10-2 in shots and 5-1 in corners at the half.  

Eight minutes into the second half, MSU was awarded a penalty stroke and capitalized as fifth-year midfielder Celina Riccardo scored on the penalty shot to put the Spartans on the board. It was Riccardo’s first goal of the season. 

“It’s just that shift, you get that goal, and all of a sudden you’ve got some belief and confidence moving forward, and that definitely fueled us in the second half,” Knull said. 

MSU’s 5-1 lead in shots in the third quarter proved that the Spartans weren’t going away quietly. The Spartans had several more chances, particularly on penalty corners, to net the equalizer but failed to convert them into points. 

Molyneaux added an unassisted insurance goal four minutes into the fourth quarter for Rutgers, making MSU’s upset bid even more difficult. In the end, the Scarlett Knight defense prevailed, escaping East Lansing and staying undefeated with a 3-1 victory. 

The loss moved the Spartans to 3-10 on the season and 1-6 in conference play. With their next contest a week away at Miami of Ohio, they have sufficient time to recoup and bounce back. 

“(Miami of Ohio) is always a good team, always a battle,” Knull said. “They’re a skilled team, and I’m looking for my squad to come out and play Spartan hockey. I feel like if we play like we did today up against them, we’re going to be in a fine spot.”

MSU travels to face the RedHawks on Sunday, Oct. 22 at 1 p.m.

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