Michigan State Spartans Wear Down No. 6 Penn State in Gritty Upset
Penn State women’s soccer has been dominating recently, but the Michigan State Spartans were not planning on being intimidated by the Nittany Lions, slaying the sixth-ranked Nittany Lions 2-1 at Jeffrey Field on Thursday night.
The Spartans largely controlled the matchup, with their outside speed and physicality across the pitch keeping the blue and white scrambling for answers
“They were on it,” coach Erica Dambach said, “and we were on our heels.”
The game was physical from the outset, with Michigan State pulling its weight. Even through a scoreless first half, they remained in control for a majority of the opening 45 minutes.
Neither side managed any scoring opportunities throughout the 15th minute of the match, but the Spartans began to pressure Katherine Asman in the net in the latter stages of the half.
They opened pressure with an open attack from freshman Emerson Sargeant that just missed the side of the net. 16 minutes later, Penn State responded with a rush of their own, before ultimately being stopped by a timely block from a Spartan defender.
Michigan State remained in attack mode for the remainder of the first half. The Nittany Lions’ goalkeeper did not falter though, holding the green and white scoreless heading into halftime.
In the final 45 minutes of the game, the physicality began to shine through for both teams. The referees were not exactly hesitant to call foul though, with 25 combined fouls called throughout the game.
“It’s the Big Ten,” said senior Ally Schlegel, “it’s blue collar.”
Michigan State used this physical style to its advantage, taking the first lead of the game in the 57th minute as Justina Gaynor was left to take a free shot. Just 12 minutes later, the Spartans struck again as sophomore Jordyn Wickes snuck a far post shot past Asman, in what would ultimately be the game-winning goal.
After falling behind by two scores, the Nittany Lions didn’t give up, rather they gained their motivation and took over the momentum for seemingly the first time all game.
“Our team just wanted it more,” said Dambach of her team’s late-game push.
This added flare for the blue and white led to an already physical game becoming even more intense with tempers flaring and yellow cards flying all over the pitch.
In the 81st minute, Ally Schlegel netted Penn State’s only goal on a top corner shot.
The final 10 minutes were a frenzy for the Nittany Lions as they desperately tried to draw the game even. However, Two last minute shots went wide of the net and the Spartans strolled out of Jeffrey Field with a shocking upset.
“It’s very frustrating, we didn’t create chances,” Dambach said.
The squad will look to put this loss behind them before heading to Ohio State for their next contest on Sunday, Oct. 2 at noon.
Evan Smith is a second-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.
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