Field Hockey wins Big Ten Tournament by dropping Indiana 3-2
Nov. 8, 2009
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EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State used a three goal first half and seven saves from senior goalkeeper and Tournament MVP Elissa Unger (Reading, Pa.) to defeat No. 18 Indiana in the Big Ten Tournament finals, 3-2. Unger was joined on the All-Tournament Team by classmates Floor Rijpma (Bunnik, Netherlands) and Jeamie Deacon (Wexford, Ireland). The victory gives Michigan State its third Big Ten Tournament Championship in school history. With the victory Michigan State becomes just the second team in Big Ten history to finish the regular season undefeated and win the Big Ten Tournament. The victory also gives MSU an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
"I'm very proud of my girls," said head coach Rolf van de Kerkhof. "It's a joy to be part of the experience. They got it done today."
The Spartans and Hoosiers played back and forth hockey for the 10 minutes of play with both teams firing multiple shots towards the goal. Michigan State had a chance to get out to a 1-0 lead but Indiana back Brenna Moeljadi made a diving defensive save on a shot from freshman Manouk Vernij (Bleiswijk, Netherlands). The Hoosiers took momentum from the Moeljadi defensive save and eventually earned a penalty stroke opportunity which Haley Funk capitalized on giving Indiana a 1-0 lead. The Spartans drew even at the 25:20 mark when Deacon's shot off a corner deflected off a defenders stick and into the back of the cage. The Spartans took the lead less than 10 minutes later when Rijpma took a pass from sophomore Angie Lucik (Emmaus, Pa.) and beat Indiana keeper Alex Mann low. A mere 24 seconds later the Spartans were on the board again when Deacon ripped a shot past a diving Mann to give the Spartans a 3-1 lead entering halftime.
The Hoosiers came out firing in the second half and had an opportunity to cut into the MSU lead but junior Joelle van Ierland (Den Dolder, Netherlands) made a defensive save a minute and a half into half to keep the Spartan lead at 2. Indiana was able to get a goal back when Morgan Fleetwood took a pass from Kelsey Kiper and beat Unger high. From there, the Michigan State defense locked down the Hoosiers holding them shotless for the last 17 minutes of the game.
Following the game Spartan players rushed the field and celebrated their second Big Ten Championship of the season by giving van de Kerkhof a celebratory Gatorade shower.
"It was cold, but totally worth it," said van de Kerkhof. "That's part of celebrating and I was happy to be a part of it."
The Spartans, who clinched their seventh NCAA berth with the victory, will find out their Tournament opponent on Tuesday.
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