Sept. 19, 2013
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State field hockey team travels to Louisville for a pair of weekend matchups with Northeastern and No. 20 Old Dominion. The Spartans take on Northeastern (3-2) on Friday at 4 p.m. and Old Dominion (1-5) on Sunday at 11 a.m.
MSU played defending national champion and No. 3 Princeton to a tough match last Friday afternoon, but suffered a 2-1 overtime heartbreaker. The Tigers jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the 8th minute of the game, but MSU's stingy defense held the deficit to one for the remainder of the contest. The score stayed 1-0 until 10 seconds remaining in regulation when Ali Helwig intercepted a ball and sent it up field to an open Allie Ahern, who found the back of the net to send the game to overtime. Despite generating more opportunities in the extra period, it was Princeton that put home the game winning goal. Michigan State then fell to Delaware 5-1 on Sunday. It was Ahern again that scored for the Spartans, bringing her team leading total to six for the season.
Spreading the Wealth
Of the 16 goals that Michigan State has scored so far this season, 10 of those 16 have come from different players. Allie Ahern leads the attack with six goals on the season and junior forward Heather Howie has two, while eight other Spartans have tallied one goal. There are 14 players who have tallied a point, registering at least one goal or assist. This offensive balance has led to Michigan State ranking third in the Big Ten in goals (16).
Allie Ahern has now scored in three consecutive games for Michigan State. Her six goals is tied for tops in the Big Ten, while her 12 points ranks third. Ahern recorded a hat trick in the 7-0 win over Pacific.
Freshman Adrea Donaldson, Megan Fenton, Kristen Matuala and Shelby Supica have all picked up their first career goals in the Green and White. On the defensive side, goalkeeper Molly Cassidy has made a Big Ten-leading 27 saves this season. Cassidy came up big last Friday against No. 3 Princeton, stopping a season-high eight shots in the contest and keeping the Spartans in a close game.
All-Big Ten forward Abby Barker returns to the lineup this weekend after having been sidelined due to injury.
Weekend Scouting Report
The Huskies enter Friday's matchup with MSU owning a 3-2 record on the year. Northeastern defeated MSU 3-1 last year in East Lansing, but the Spartans own the all-time series lead at 3-2. Emmy Zweserijn leads the team in scoring, posting a 3-2-8 line. The balanced offensive attack is followed by four other players with two goals each. Becky Garner is the likely goalkeeper for Friday's game, as she has started in all five contests, recording 25 saves and allowing 1.82 goals per game.
Old Dominion enters the weekend 1-5 on the season and ranks 20th in the Penn Monto / NFHCA Division I National Coaches Poll. The Monarchs five losses have all come to teams that are ranked in the national top ten, and ODU plays No.19 Louisville on Friday before Sunday's meeting with Michigan State. The Spartans hold a 2-1 all-time series lead over ODU, including a 4-1 win over the Monarchs in their last meeting in 2009.
Rosario Villagra, Sarah Breen and Kelsey Smither lead the Monarch offense with four points apiece, while Breen leads the team in goals with two. Megan Hept has been in net for every game thus far, recording 32 saves and owning a 3.34 GAA.
Michigan State is in a stretch in which it will play six road games in seven contests. The Spartans have played just two games at home this season, having traveled west to Stanford for three games and to the east coast to take on Princeton and Delaware. After this weekend's trip to Louisville, MSU returns home to open up Big Ten play and host Ohio State on September 28th.
Relying on Experience
Senior midfielder Kristen Henn is in her third year as a captain of the Spartan field hockey team. She got off to a hot start in the 2013 campaign, netting the game-winning goal in the team's exhibition match against Michigan and picking up a goal and two assists in the first three games.
The Spartans roster features 12 underclassmen (11 freshmen, 3 sophomores), which means Michigan State will lean heavily on experience and team leadership. There are 10 juniors and seniors on the roster that have started in all seven games to start the season, and the top five point getters on the team are all upperclassmen.
B1G Players to Watch
Playing the Best
MSU will face eight teams from last year's NCAA tournament in its 19-game schedule. The non conference portion of the season has already featured games against reigning national champion Princeton who sits sixth in the national poll, . The Spartans have already played 10th ranked Stanford and last year's national semi-finalist Syracuse, who currently sits at sixth in the national poll. This weekend, the Spartans travel to Lexington Kentucky where they will take on 20th ranked Old Dominion and Northeastern, who ranked 15th in the preseason poll. The slate doesn't get any easier for the Spartans once they enter conference play as Big Ten opponents Iowa, Northwestern and Penn State all currently sit in the top 25.
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 past 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.
Michigan State returns home on Saturday, September 28th to kick off Big Ten action against Ohio State. The game will take place at 1 p.m. at Ralph Young Field and will be featured on the Big Ten Digital Network.