Sep 5, 2013
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State welcomes Kent State, Monmouth and Syracuse to East Lansing for the Auto-Owners Insurance MSU Invitational. The invitational consists of four games played over the course of two days over the weekend. On Friday, September 6th, Monmouth will take on Kent State at 4 p.m. before Michigan State plays Syracuse at 6:15 p.m. The invitational will wrap up on Sunday, September 6th with another pair of games, featuring Michigan State and Monmouth at 11 a.m. and Syracuse vs. Kent State at 1:30 p.m. All games will take place at Ralph Young Field.
Michigan State went 1-2 on its first road trip of the season. The Spartans played three games on the campus of Stanford University over the course of Labor Day weekend, taking on California, Pacific and Stanford. MSU opened up its season with a heartbreaking 2-1 loss to California on Friday. Regulation and two overtime periods weren't enough to settle the score, and it took the teams eight rounds of a penalty shootout before Cal came out on top. The Spartans found the scoring touch on Sunday in their game against Pacific in which the offense exploded for seven goals. Five different players scored in the game and Allie Ahern recorded a hat trick, all in the game's first 40 minutes. MSU then fell to No. 12 Stanford on Monday, 5-2. Heather Howie scored both of the goals for the Spartans while Kristen Henn picked up her second assist of the weekend.
The Spartans welcome back four of the top five scorers from the 2012 season along with top goalkeeper Molly Cassidy, who recorded the most saves in the Big Ten. Michigan State is coming off of a 10-10 season in 2012 in which it also went 2-4 in the Big Ten. It was a season of close calls for MSU, with eight losses coming by just one goal, including three overtime losses.
2012 All-Big Ten selections Abby Barker and Becky Stiles are coming off of sensational sophomore seasons and have been tabbed as "players to watch" within the Big Ten along with teammate Molly Cassidy. Barker tallied an 18-3-39 scoring line last season, ranking fourth in the conference in goals and fifth in points. Cassidy, the Spartans' top goalkeeper for the past three seasons, led the Big Ten in saves with 128 while posting a 1.71 GAA to go along with her .785 save percentage.
Senior midfielder Kristen Henn was announced as the team captain by head coach Helen Knull. Henn returns to the lineup having played 65 games in the Green and White and looks to be the anchor of the Spartan lineup. She is off to a hot start in the 2013 campaign, as she netted the game-winning goal in the team's exhibition match against Michigan and picked up a goal and two assists in the first three games.
The Michigan State roster features 11 freshman, three sophomores, seven juniors, and five seniors.
Weekend Scouting Report
Syracuse The Orange were ranked fifth by the NFHCA in their preseason' poll, and in 2012 went 19-3 and made a run to the Final Four. Syracuse is off to a 2-0 start, having outscored opponents 9-2 in those games. Junior forward Lauren Brooks is the Orange's top returning scorer, as she posted a 12-4-28 scoring line. First Team All-American back Laura Hahnefeldt returns to lead a defense that had the eighth-best goals against average in the country in 2012 (1.36). Alyssa Manley has led the charge so far this season for the Orange, scoring four goals in the team's first two games. Syracuse is led by coach Ange Bradley, who in six seasons has been named BIG EAST Coach of the Year four times and has posted a record of 106-25 (.809). The Orange begin this season on a quest for their sixth-straight NCAA Tournament appearance.
Monmouth The Hawks were selected to finish third in the MAAC preseason poll. Monmouth is led by senior midfielder Trish O'Dwyer and defender Alex Carroll, who were named to the Preseason All-MAAC team. The Hawks enter the weekend 0-1, coming off of a 2-1 overtime loss to Northeastern. Monmouth finished 8-13 and 5-2 in the NEC last season. Amanda Schoenfeld and Trish O'Dwyer each tallied seven goals in the 2012 campaign and return as the Hawks leading goal scorers from last season.
The Year Ahead MSU will face eight NCAA tournament teams in its 19-game schedule, including reigning national champion Princeton and national semi-finalist Syracuse. In addition, three conference champions are on the docket for the Spartans during non-conference play: Miami (MAC), Old Dominion (CAA) and Stanford (NorthPac). This weekend is MSU's first home games of the season.
The Spartan Staff Helen Knull enters her third season as the head coach of Michigan State field hockey. Knull spent five seasons as an assistant and associate head coach at MSU from 2006-2010 and holds a 91-57 record while on staff for the Spartans. Knull was a four-year starter, two-year captain and a two-time All-American at Kent State, leading the Golden Flashes to the NCAA Tournament four straight years from 1999-2002. In 2002, Knull was named Mid-American Conference Player of the Year. She was inducted into the Kent State Athletics Hall of Fame in 2008. Knull went on to be an assistant coach at her alma mater for two years and an associate head coach for a year before coming to Michigan State. As a coach at Kent State, Knull helped lead her alma mater to two MAC Championships in three years. Molly Maloney enters her sixth season as an assistant coach for the Michigan State field hockey program. This offseason she was promoted to the program's top assistant position. Maloney joined the Spartans beginning in 2008, and Michigan State holds a record of 67-39, including three NCAA tournament appearances, in her tenure.
Jennifer Sciulli joins the Spartan field hockey staff for the 2013 campaign. She served as a student assistant coach at Ohio State in the fall of 2012 before graduating in December with a degree in Speech and Hearing sciences. Sciulli was a four-year varsity starter for the Ohio State field hockey team (2008-2011) where she was a First Team All-American and First Team All-Big Ten selection her senior year.
USA Field Hockey Allie Ahern, Becky Stiles and Abby Barker were among the top field hockey players in the country competing at the USA Field Hockey U-21 National Championships this June. Stiles and Barker competed at the US Field Hockey National Championships in late May, vying for a spot on the U-21 team. Stiles competed for Team New Jersey, and Barker for the Midwest/California Squad.
Up Next Michigan State will hit the road for its next game to take on Princeton on Friday, September 13th at 6 p.m., followed by a meeting with Delaware (and former Spartan head coach Rolf van de Kerkhof) on Sunday, September 15th at 1 p.m.