Aug 24, 2013
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State got an unofficial start to the 2013 season with a 2-1 victory in its exhibition match against in-state rival Michigan on Saturday.
Senior captain Kristen Henn buried the game-winning goal with just under four minutes remaining in the game to give the Spartans a 2-1 lead they wouldn't relinquish. MSU rallied from a 1-0 deficit at halftime to post two second-half markers for the win.
"It feels good to get a win under your belt, exhibition or not. It helps you gain confidence," said Henn. "We lost a lot of close games last year so it would've been easy to get down. We rallied as a team and kept up our communication, so it was good to see us get a win."
MSU went down early in the game as the Wolverines jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead four minutes into the game. Michigan capitalized on it's first penalty corner at the 4:01 mark of the first half when Kim Sheaffer sent it in from the left side to Ainsley McCallister, who settled it for Rachael Mack to put into in the back of the net.
Michigan just missed on an opportunity to tack on a goal with less than a minute remaining in the first half, leaving the door open for Michigan State. Sina Lamp redirected a long pass in from the 45-yard line that went off of the top crossbar.
After falling behind early, the Spartans played even with the Wolverines for the remainder of the first half, then tallied the equalizer 1:57 into the second frame. MSU capitalized on their first corner penalty of the game when Jenni Smith sent in the initial shot off the set play. Smith's shot was redirected in front by junior forward Abby Barker and into the back of the net.
Michigan State used ball control and sharp passing to gain control in the second half and help turn the game in its favor.
"For preseason, one of our themes was spacing and right from the start our girls executed it," said head coach Helen Knull. "Our possession hasn't been this good in a long time and we didn't see too many turnovers in the backfield, which is key for us. Coming out, I thought we had great energy and enthusiasm. We talked about getting a vibe and setting the tone and we did that from the first whistle."
Last season, the Spartans lost eight games by just one goal, so today was a step in the right direction in terms of closing out and winning close games.
"It sets the tone and its confidence for us moving forward," said Knull. "When they scored I saw our girls deflate a little, but then they picked their heads back up. You have got to be able to play from both ahead and behind. I thought we kept our poise and stuck to the game plan."
Goalkeeper Molly Cassidy recorded three saves on the day. Michigan State outshot the Wolverines 10-6 while Michigan held the advantage in penalty corners 4-3.
Michigan State kicks off the regular season on Friday August 30th at 10 pm ET when it takes on California. The game is part of a three-game road trip out west, with all of the games taking place on the campus of Stanford University.