Sept. 26, 2013
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State field hockey team kicks off Big Ten play when it welcomes Ohio State to East Lansing on Saturday, September 28th. The game will be played at 1 p.m. at Ralph Young Field and will be featured on the Big Ten Digital Network.
MSU defeated Northeastern 2-0 last Friday, picking up its third win of the season. Molly Cassidy earned her first shutout of the season, and turned away eight shots over the course of the weekend, bringing her season total to a Big Ten-leading 35 saves. Allie Ahern scored for the fourth consecutive game and Kristen Henn netted her second goal of the season. On Sunday, the Spartans fell 3-1 to No. 20 Old Dominion. Abby Barker had the lone goal in the game for the Spartans and was assisted by Heather Howie.
Of the 19 goals that Michigan State has scored so far this season, 10 of those 19 have come from different players. Allie Ahern leads the attack with seven goals on the season while Heather Howie, Kristen Henn, and Abby Barker have all tacked on two each. There are 15 players who have tallied a point, registering at least one goal or assist.
Allie Ahern scored a goal in four consecutive games for the Spartans, bringing her season total to seven. She leads the team in goals (7) and points (14), ranking third and fifth respectively in the Big Ten in those categories. Ahern Ahern recorded a hat trick in the 7-0 win over Pacific.
On the defensive side, goalkeeper Molly Cassidy has made a Big Ten leading 35 saves this season. Cassidy recorded her first shutout of the season on Friday against Northeastern and made another six saves on Sunday against ODU. Cassidy stopped a season high eight shots when MSU took on No.3 Princeton. She has now recorded 19 saves over the last two weekends for the Spartans.
All-Big Ten forward Abby Barker saw action last weekend for the first time since the Stanford game (9/2) after being sidelined due to injury. The team's leading scorer from the 2012 campaign scored the lone goal on Sunday for MSU against No. 20 Old Dominion in just her second game back.
Michigan State has scored first in all three of their wins this year, recording team shutouts in two of those victories.
Weekend Scouting Report - Ohio State The Buckeyes enter the weekend with a 3-5 record on the season. Ohio State and Michigan State shared identical 2-4 records in the Big Ten last season. Peanut Johnson and Nora Murer lead the offensive attack for the Buckeyes with four and three goals respectively. Sarah Lemieux is the likely goalkeeper for the Buckeyes, and she owns a 2.18 GAA and .667 save percentage, both of which rank fourth best in the Big Ten.
Michigan State is 8-5 in Big Ten openers since 2000.
Ohio State owns a 36-18-3 edge in the all time series, but Michigan State has dominated the recent history, winning five of its last six regular-season matchups with the Buckeyes.
Michigan State returns home for Saturday's game after having played the last four contests on the road. It will be a quick stop home for MSU, as they hit the road for the two games following their Big Ten opener with Ohio State. The Spartans have played just two games at home this season, having traveled west to Stanford for three games, to the east coast to take on Princeton and Delaware, and down to Louisville for a weekend set of games against Northeastern and Old Dominion.
Relying on Experience
Senior midfielder Kristen Henn was announced as the team captain by head coach Helen Knull. This is Henn's third year as a captain of the Spartans and she looks to be the anchor of the Spartan lineup this season. 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. Henn became the fourth Spartan to score multiple goals this season when she punched in a goal in the 2-0 win over Northeastern.
The Spartans roster features 12 underclassmen (11 freshmen, 3 sophomores), which means Michigan State will lean heavily on experience and team leadership. There are nine juniors and seniors on the roster that have started in all nine 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 faces eight teams from last year's NCAA tournament in its 19-game schedule. The non conference portion of the season has already featured three games against teams that currently sit in the top 10 of the national poll, including reigning national champion Princeton (10th), last year's national semi-finalist Syracuse (5th) and Stanford (6th). Last weekend, Michigan State played its fourth ranked opponent of the season in No. 20 Old Dominion.
The slate doesn't get any easier for the Spartans once they enter conference play, as Big Ten opponents Penn State (8th), Northwestern (12th), Iowa (14th) and Michigan (19th) all currently sit in the top 20.
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 travels to Bloomington to take on Indiana on Friday, October 4th. The game will take place at 3 p.m. and be featured on the Big Ten Network.