Oct. 23, 2009
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Rolf van de Kerkhof
EAST LANSING, Mich. - No. 8 Michigan State used a pair of first half goals and a solid defensive effort to defeat No. 15 Ohio State, 2-1, on a rainy Friday (Oct. 23) afternoon at Ralph Young Field. With the victory, the Spartans improved to 13-3 (4-0 Big Ten) on the season and clinched a share of the Big Ten regular season title for the first time since 2004. It marks the fourth Big Ten regular season title in program history.
"Winning a share of the Big Ten title is great for us and our program at Michigan State," said head coach Rolf van de Kerkhof. "We have been working so hard for it since January when we started the 2009 campaign. I'm all for sharing, but a Big Ten Championship is something that you don't want to share if you don't have to and we have two games left to take care of that. So we're going to go out there and try to win it outright."
The Spartans came out strong in the first half, firing five shots at Ohio State keeper Lindsay Quintiliani within the first 10 minutes of the game, but the Buckeye keeper was equal to the challenge by turning away all five shots. The Spartans finally broke through at the 15:22 mark when senior Floor Rijpma (Bunnik, Netherlands) took a pass from junior Julie Mackay (Houston, Texas) and fired a beautiful backhand shot past a diving Quintiliani to make the score 1-0 in favor of the Spartans. Less than 10 minutes later MSU was on the board again when senior Jeamie Deacon (Wexford, Ireland) slammed home a rebound making the score 2-0 Spartans. Michigan State had a chance to push its lead to three just before the half but a shot from junior Jantine Steinmetz (Amstelveen, Netherlands) rang off the post keeping the score 2-0 heading into halftime.
The second half saw the Buckeyes come out strong and get on the scoreboard just over 10 minutes into the second frame when Berta Queralt tipped a Maria Briones shot past Spartan goalie Ellisa Unger (Emmaus, Pa.) to cut the Spartan lead to one with just under 20 minutes remaining in the game. After the Buckeye goal, the Spartans maintained their composure and used a combination of lockdown defense and ball possession to hang on to the 2-1 victory.
"I think that we played very well in the first half," said van de Kerkhof. "It could have easily been 3-0 or 4-0 in the first half, and if that were the case our second half would've been a lot easier but you have to give Ohio State credit for the way they played. Overall, I'm happy that we were able to hang on to the 2-1 win and earn a share of the Big Ten title."
The Spartans return to action on Sunday when welcome in-state rival Michigan to Ralph Young Field for a 12:10 p.m. contest. With a victory over Michigan on Sunday the Spartans would claim their first-ever outright Big Ten regular season title.
Sunday's matchup will also serve as a breast cancer awareness day. The breast cancer awareness day, entitled "Go Green, Go White, Go Pink!", will see players from both the Spartans and Wolverines dawn special pink warm-up uniforms and various pink accessories. Fans, who are encouraged to wear their pink, will be able to get information on breast cancer awareness and make donations to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Mid-Michigan Affiliate. The MSU and UM teams will also be joining forces and making a "team" donation to the cause.
Both of the Spartans' games this weekend will be covered by Big Ten Network and will air on tape delay. Michigan State's matchup with Ohio State will air on Big Ten Network tape delay at 6 p.m. on Sunday (10/25). Michigan State and Michigan will air on Big Ten Network tape delay at 8 p.m. on Monday (10/26).