Sept. 28, 2013
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State opened up Big Ten play with an exciting 3-2 victory over Ohio State on Saturday afternoon at Ralph Young Field. Allie Ahern scored twice for the Spartans, including the game-winner with just under eight minutes remaining in regulation. MSU improves to 4-6 on the year and 1-0 in Big Ten play.
MSU jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first half. The Spartans opened the scoring in the eighth minute on their first penalty corner. Jenni Smith sent in the corner to Alli Helwig who settled the ball, allowing Ahern to beat the goalie. Four minutes later, the Spartans pushed their lead to two on a goal from Sophomore Mallory Tyler. It was Tyler's first goal of the season, and Becky Stiles assisted her on the play.
Ohio State responded with two goals in less than two minutes. Kaitlyn Wagner and Sophia Pifer each scored, tying the game up at 2-2.
"There's no such thing as cruise control," said head coach Helen Knull. "It doesn't matter what the score is, we have got to play 70 minutes of hockey. We got into a lull, and Ohio State came back. We have got to find away to execute for 70 minutes."
With eight minutes remaining in the game, Michigan State broke the tie for good on Ahern's second goal of the afternoon. Abby Barker dribbled up the left side of the field and sent a pass into the middle to a streaking Ahern. She dribbled the ball into the top of the circle where she fired a shot that beat Ohio State goalie Sarah Lemieux.
"Allie is lethal in the circle," said Knull. "She has so much power behind her shots. She did a great job today of getting herself open. She has fast hands and for her she just has to get herself open and rip the shot, and today she did that beautifully for us."
The goal was Ahern's Big Ten leading ninth of the year and sixth goal in as many games.
"When I get the ball, the girls are making cuts away and drawing defenders," said Ahern. "It is really opening up a space for me and allowing me to find the net when they are making selfless cuts. Today was exciting because our goals for the season are all still in front of us. We have to take things one game at a time. We are going to celebrate now and then get back at it and prepare for Indiana."
Ohio State made a late push, but the Michigan State defense held strong and stopped an Ohio State penalty corner as time was winding down, earning their first win in the Big Ten this season.
"The first part of the season did not go how we wanted it to," said Knull. "For us, it was a fresh start coming into Big Ten play. I think for the coaches as well as the players, today was a huge confidence builder."
"Our goal today was to come out and be 1-0 in the Big Ten," said junior forward Abby Barker. "It feels great and is a confidence booster for us moving forward."
Michigan State travels to Bloomington to take on Indiana on Friday,
October 4th. The game will take place at 3 p.m. and be featured on the
Big Ten Network.