Oct. 10, 2013
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State field hockey prepares for a set of weekend home games highlighted by a matchup with in-state rival No. 16 Michigan on Friday afternoon at 3 p.m. before welcoming non-conference opponent Ball State to East Lansing on Sunday at 1 p.m.
MSU split a pair of games last weekend, beating Indiana 4-3 on Friday before losing to Miami (Ohio) on Sunday, 2-0. Michigan State was sparked by Abby Barker and her first collegiate hat trick to get to 2-0 in Big Ten play. The Spartans used three unanswered goals to open up a 4-1 lead over the Hoosiers before a late push by Indiana closed the gap to 4-3.
Michigan State and Michigan will meet on Friday for the second time this season. The teams met in an exhibition game back on August 24th, when the Spartans defeated Michigan 2-1 at home in a pre-season matchup.
The Wolverines enter Friday's contest with a 7-5 record including a 1-1 mark in the Big Ten. Michigan is coming off a game in which it scored 10 goals over Ball State. The Wolverines average just under five goals per game their seven wins, and rank atop in the Big Ten in both goals and points.
Michigan won the last regular season matchup between the teams, edging out a 3-2 victory in overtime last October.
Friday will be the 67th meeting all-time between the two in-state rivals on the field hockey pitch. The Wolverines own the all-time series record 36-23-7.
Senior forward Rachel Mack leads the offensive attack for Michigan, and leads the Big Ten in both points (33) and goals (14). It is Leslie Smith and Ainsley McCallister who lead the high powered offense in assists with nine and seven respectively. Smith leads the Big Ten in the assist column while McCallister is third.
Haley Jones is the likely starter in net for Friday's matchup. Jones has started in all 12 games for the Wolverines, making 46 saves and owning a 2.34 GAA.
Michigan State will wear its pink jerseys and socks against Michigan on Friday in its annual Pink game to promote breast cancer awareness. Fans are encouraged to wear pink in support of this worthwhile cause.
Michigan State's victory over Indiana on Friday improved the Spartans record to 2-0 in the Big Ten. It is the first time that MSU has started 2-0 in the Big Ten since 2009, and is the first time this season that the Spartans have won back-to-back games.
Abby Barker recorded her first collegiate hat trick on Friday, bringing her goal total for the season to five. She is the second Spartan to record a hat trick this year, as teammate Allie Ahern did it against Pacific (9/1). Fifteen different players have recorded at least a goal or an assist this year for the Spartans. Allie Ahern and Abby Barker lead the attack with nine and five goals respectively, while Heather Howie, Kristen Henn, and Adelle Lever have all tacked on two each. Alli Helwig and Katherine Jamieson lead the team in assists with three each, while four players (Kristen Henn, Heather Howie, Jenni Smith and Becky Stiles) all have two assists.
Allie Ahern has been a consistent force for the Michigan State offense all season. She ranks fourth in the Big Ten in goals (9) and sixth in points (19). Ahern has now scored the game-winning goal in three of MSU's five victories.
Since Barker's return to the lineup against Northeastern (9/20), Ahern and Barker have accounted for seven of Michigan State's 11 goals.
On the defensive side, goalkeeper Molly Cassidy has made 48 saves this season, the second most in the Big Ten. Cassidy recorded her first shutout of the season against Northeastern (9/20) and stopped a season high eight shots when MSU took on No.3 Princeton (9/13). Michigan State goalies have made a combined 54 saves this year, one off the pace with Indiana for the league lead.
Alli Helwig has made all three defensive saves for MSU this season.
Michigan State has scored first in all five of their wins this year, recording team shutouts in two of those victories.
Scouting Ball State
The Cardinals enter the weekend with a 5-6 record. Lexi Cavanaugh leads the team in scoring with a 6-0-12 scoring line. Shelby Henley has played every minute in net for the Cardinals this season, owning a 2.91 GAA and .719 save percentage. MSU won the previous meeting between the two teams, 1-0 back in 2011. Ball State has an edge on the Spartans in the all time series, 11-8-2.
Michigan State has played six of its last seven games on the road. MSU has played just three games at home so far this season, going 2-1 in games at Ralph Young Field. Four of Michigan State's remaining six games will take place at its home venue.
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 (9/20).
The Spartans roster features 12 underclassmen (11 freshmen, 3 sophomores), which means Michigan State will lean heavily on experience and team leadership. There are eight juniors and seniors on the roster that have started in all 12 games to start the season, and the top six 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 are currently ranked in the national poll, including reigning national champion Princeton (9th), last year's national semi-finalist Syracuse (3rd), Stanford (13th), and Old Dominion (20th).
The slate doesn't get any easier for the Spartans once they enter conference play, as Big Ten opponents Penn State (8th), Northwestern (10th), Michigan (16th) and Iowa (18th) all currently sit in the top 20. MSU took on Michigan as an exhibition game to start the year, beating the Wolverines 2-1.
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 Penn State to take on the Nittany Lions on Saturday, October 19th at 12 p.m.