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Sept. 26, 1997

Fernandez' Magic Carries MSU to 3-2 OT Victory

By Russ Ormiston

EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Senior Emma Fernandez scored all three Michigan State goals, including the game-winner in overtime, as she lifted the Spartans (7-2, 1-0 in Big Ten) to a thrilling 3-2 overtime win against Northwestern (3-6, 0-1) at Spartan Stadium.

Her first career hat-trick, Fernandez tallied the deciding mark 5:57 into the first overtime period. She took a pass near midfield and sprinted down the field on a 2-on-1 break with fellow Spartan Rayna Hiscox. After taking a pass from Fernandez, Hiscox fired a shot from the right side of the circle. Northwestern net-minder Jessica Yates came out of the goal and deflected it, as the ball rolled to the left corner of the net. Fernandez outsprinted the defender, smacking the game-winner into an open net.

"I just wanted to get the game over with. I thought Rayna was going to score, but I was able to get there and put it in," said Fernandez.

Fernandez, a senior from Harwich, Mass., got the Spartans off to a quick start, notching the game's opening score 11:18 into the contest. She put MSU up by two later in the first, deflecting a Sofie Frankenhuis pass into the net, as MSU went into halftime up 2-0.

But the Spartans' lead fell, as Northwestern seized the momentum after the break. The Wildcats' Lindsay Wright put NU on the board 1:55 after the intermission, knocking a loose ball in front of Michigan State's goal past MSU net-minder Beth George. Wright then knotted the game at two with only 5:30 left in the contest, taking a pass from teammate Wendy DeFord and slapping her second of the game into the net.

"It was a great team effort, but we shouldn't have gone into overtime - we were winning. But we finished strong and won our first Big Ten game (of the season)," remarked Fernandez.

The Spartans counteracted the Wildcats' momentum in the overtime, taking the offensive in the extra frame. Hiscox nearly put the game on ice four minutes in, sending a shot past Yates that trickled less than a foot outside the net. The Spartans took all three overtime shots, as they picked up their first conference win of the season.

"We practiced O.T. this week, 7-on-7, for conditioning. They played hard in practice, trying to score as soon as possible, and they came out with that same kind of intensity today," stated MSU Head Coach Michele Madison.

A junior from Davis, Calif., George stopped 13 saves, raising her Big Ten-leading save percentage to .797. She has played every minute of the season in net for the Spartans, accounting for the team's 7-2 record.

"It was a total team effort - that's what it's been all along," said Madison.

Michigan State improved their series mark to 7-29 against Northwestern, as they revenged the Wildcats' 1-0 victory in last season's Big Ten tournament.

Fernandez' hat-trick gives her seven goals on the season and 28 for her career, moving her into sole possesion of fifth place on MSU's all-time goal scoring list. Senior forwards Hiscox (10), Fernandez (7) and Berberich (6) have scored 23 of MSU's 26 goals this season.

"Attack, attack, attack - that's our whole game. If people like to see speed, athleticism and intensity, they ought to come to our games - it's exciting," stated Madison. "We've got three All-Americans on the front line (Hiscox, Fernandez and Jill Lusher). They all work together and somebody always comes through for us. Today, it was Emma."

The Spartans return home Sunday, September 28, as they host defending conference champion Iowa at Spartan Stadium, with the start time slated for 1 P.M.

MICHIGAN STATE  2   0   1   --  3
NORTHWESTERN    0   2   0   --  2

First Half:
MSU - Emma Fernandez 11:18
MSU - Emma Fernandez (Sofie Frankenhuis) 24:31
Second Half:
NW - Lindsay Wright 1:55
NW - Lindsay Wright (Wendy DeFord) 29:30
MSU - Emma Fernandez 5:57

Michigan State: 16
Northwestern: 20

Michigan State:
Beth George - 13
Jessica Yates - 9

Michigan State: 7-2, 1-0
Northwestern: 3-6, 0-1

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