Nov. 1, 2013
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State (8-9, 3-2) closes out the regular season on Saturday, November 2nd when it takes on No. 18 Iowa. The game will take place in Iowa City at 2 p.m.
Week in Review
MSU fell to No. 13 Northwestern last Saturday, 2-1 on Senior Day. Down 1-0 in the 43rd minute, the Spartans tied the game up on Adelle Lever's fourth goal of the season. The game remained in a deadlock for much of the second half until the Wildcats netted the game-winner with 6 minutes remaining in regulation to secure the victory and improve to 4-1 in Big Ten play. The loss by MSU eliminated the Spartans from the Big Ten title race.
Scouting the Hawkeyes
No. 18 Iowa enters the weekend 11-6 overall and 2-3 in the Big Ten. The Hawkeyes lead the Big Ten in goals scored with 59 and are averaging 3.47 goals per game. The high-powered offense is led by Natalie Cafone who leads the league in both points (47) and goals (19). Kelsey Boyce is the likely starter in net for the Hawkeyes, averaging a 1.41 GAA and .707 save percentage.
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 goals each, while Kristen Henn and Adelle Lever have added four each. Michigan State has scored first in all eight of their wins this year, recording team shutouts in four of those victories.
Jenni Smith leads the team with seven assists, while Alli Helwig and Katherine Jamieson are second on the team with five each.
Smith has had a recent point surge, tallying nine points in the Spartans' last five games. Smith scored her first two goals of the season against Michigan and had an assist against Ball State, before adding three more assists against No. 5 Penn State.
The Michigan State frontline has developed a one-two combo of Abby Barker and Allie Ahern. The two account for just under half (20/42) of the teams goals and combine for seven game winning goals. Since Barker's return to the lineup against Northeastern (9/20), at least one of the two has scored in every game two. Barker was held without a goal against Northwestern, the first time in five games. She has scored eight goals in the last seven games, including a hat trick against Indiana (10/4) and was the second Spartan to do so this year. (Allie Ahern accomplished the feat against Pacific (9/1)) Barker's 0.77 goals per game ranks third best in the Big Ten.
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 goals and ninth in points.
On the defensive side, goalkeeper Molly Cassidy has made 73 saves this season, the second-most in the Big Ten. Cassidy turned away a season high 12 shots against No. 3 Penn State. She recorded her first shutout of the season against Northeastern (9/20) and Michigan State goalies have made a combined 80 saves this year, which ranks second in the Big Ten behind Indiana. Alli Helwig has made three defensive saves for MSU this season.
Molly Cassidy and Kristen Henn were selected to play in this year's Front Rush / NFHCA Division I Senior Game. The game will be held on Saturday, November 23rd at the Virginia Beach Sportsplex in Virginia Beach, VA. Game time is 2:15 p.m Big Ten Player of the Week
Junior defensive back Jenni Smith earned Big Ten Co-Defensive Player of the week 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.
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 fifth 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 17 games to start the season, and the top eight point scorers on the team are all upperclassmen.
Home Field Advantage
Michigan State saw great success at Ralph Young Field this season, going 5-2 at its home venue, with losses coming to No. 4 Syracuse and No. 13 Northwestern. The Spartans won five-straight at home between the two losses, outscoring opponents 19-6 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 (2nd), Old Dominion(5th) and Stanford (11th).
Three Big Ten teams currently sit in the national poll. MSU defeated then ranked No. 16 Michigan and lost to No. 6 Penn State and No. 12 Northwestern. Still on the slate for the Spartans is 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.
Michigan State travels to Columbus, Ohio to begin play in the Big Ten Tournament. Seedings for the Tournament will be released on Sunday, once the regular season is completed. The first round will take place on Thursday, November 6th.