Oct. 21, 2013
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State (7-8, 3-1) prepares for a mid-week matchup with Central Michigan (5-8, 2-1). The game will take place at Ralph Young Field on Tuesday, Oct. 22 at 3 p.m.
MSU suffered a heart-breaking loss against No. 5 Penn State on Saturday. The two top teams in the Big Ten standings were tied after two overtimes and 100 minutes of play when the game went to penalty strokes that PSU won 2-1. MSU scored three unanswered goals to take a 3-1 lead, but the Nitany Lions scored two goals in two minutes to tie it back up and eventually send it to extra time. Abby Barker had a chance on a wide open net in the first overtime that was stopped on a full out dive by a Nitany Lion defender to preserve the tie. Jenni Smith recorded an assist on all three Spartan goals, her fourth assist in the last two games.
Scouting Central Michigan
Central Michigan enters Tuesday's matchup with a 5-8 record and 2-1 mark in MAC play. After losing six straight, the Chippewas have won three of their last five games. Mary Alice Moore and Kaysie Gregory and lead the team with 10 points apiece and three and five goals respectively. Sadie Reynolds is the likely keeper for CMU, as Reynolds owns a 1. 98 GAA and .755 save percentage.
Big Ten Player of the Week
Junior defensive back Jenni Smith earned Big Ten Co-Defensive Player of the week, as announced the conference office on Tuesday, October 14th. Smith had her first two goals of the season against Michigan, helping the Spartans defeat the No.16 Wolverines in double overtime and also recorded an assist and led a back line that recorded a shutout over Ball State.
After starting the season 3-6, MSU has won four of its last six games and is 3-1 and tied for second in the Big Ten.
Sixteen 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 10 and nine goals respectively, while captain Kristin Henn and has added four.
Junior back Jenni Smith has had a recent point surge, tallying eight points in the Spartans' last three games. Smith scored her first two goals of the season against Michigan and had an assist against Ball State last weekend before adding three more assist on Saturday against No. 5 Penn State.
Abby Barker recorded another goal this past weekend, making it three straight games with a goal and seven in the last five games. Barker recorded a hat trick against Indiana (10/4) and was the second Spartan to do so this year, as teammate Allie Ahern accomplished the feat against Pacific (9/1).
Allie Ahern has been a consistent force for the Michigan State offense all season, leading the team in both goals (10) and points (22), ranking sixth in the Big ten in points and fifth in goals.
Michigan State is seeing a one-two punch develop on its frontline with Abby Barker and Allie Ahern. The two account for just under half (19/40) of the teams goals. Barker and Ahern have each recorded three game-winning goals, tied for the third best mark in the Big Ten. Since Barker's return to the lineup against Northeastern (9/20), at least one of the two has scored in every game except for when the Spartans got shutout at Miami (Oh).
On the defensive side, goalkeeper Molly Cassidy has made 68 saves this season, the second most in the Big Ten. Cassidy turned away a season high 12 shots on Saturday against Penn State. She recorded her first shutout of the season against Northeastern (9/20) and Michigan State goalies have made a combined 74 saves this year, which ranks second in the Big Ten behind Indiana.
Alli Helwig has made all three defensive saves for MSU this season. Michigan State has scored first in all seven of their wins this year, recording team shutouts in three of those victories.
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 captain of the Spartans and she looks to be the anchor of the Spartan lineup this season. Henn is third on the team in goals with four and tied for fourth on the team with 10 points.
The Spartans roster features 12 underclassmen (11 freshmen, three sophomores), which means Michigan State will lean heavily on experience and team leadership. There are seven juniors and seniors on the roster that have started in all 14 games to start the season, and the top eight point scorers on the team are all upperclassmen.
Home Field Advantage
Michigan State has enjoyed playing at Ralph Young Field so far this season, going 4-1 at its home venue, with its only loss coming to No. 4 Syracuse. The Spartans have won four-straight at home since then, outscoring opponents 18-6 in those games.
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 featured three games against four teams that are currently ranked in the national poll, including reigning national champion Princeton (9th), last year's national semi-finalist Syracuse (4th) and Stanford (13th) and Old Dominion (15th).
Four Big Ten teams currently sit in the national poll. MSU defeated No. 16 Michigan and lost to No. 5 Penn State. Still on the slate for the Spartans is 11th ranked Northwestern and No. 18 Iowa.
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 to conference action on Saturday when it welcomes Northwestern to East Lansing for a 1 p.m. matchup.