Nov. 9, 2013
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State (11-9, 4-2 Big Ten) will battle No. 20 Iowa (12-7, 2-4) in in Sunday's Big Ten Tournament Championship. The game will take place at 12 p.m. and air live on Big Ten Network.
ROAD TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP
Michigan State finished the regular season 9-9 with a 4-2 record in Big Ten play, earning the number three seed in the tournament. MSU and Michigan finished the season with identical 4-2 records, but Michigan State's 3-2 double overtime victory on Oct. 11 over the Wolverines gave the Spartans the edge for the three seed.
Michigan State defeated No. 6 Indiana, 6-0, in Thursday's first round matchup, highlighted by a hat trick from First Team All-Big Ten selection Abby Barker. No. 2 Northwestern was upset by host No. 7 Ohio State in the quarterfinals, then MSU defeated the Buckeyes, 2-1 in double overtime, on Friday after- noon. Allie Ahern netted the game-winning goal for the Spartans.
Five-seed Iowa defeated No. 4 Michigan in the first round, 1-0. The Hawkeyes found themselves down 2-0 in the semifinals against the regular season co- champion and top-seeded Penn State before rallying to win 4-3 in overtime. Iowa and MSU have met 10 times in tournament history, with the Hawkeyes winning eight of those 10. However, the two teams have never met in the championship game. Matchup with Iowa
MSU closed out the regular season in Iowa City with a 4-3 victory. Katherine Jamieson had a hand in all four Spartan goals, recording an assist on top of her three goals. Iowa has dominated the all-time series, winning 46 of 59 matchups between the two teams.
Michigan State reaches the Big Ten Tournament Championship for the first time since they won it in 2009. With a win on Sunday, MSU would earn the Big Ten's automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament, its first NCAA bid since 2010.
MSU is currently on a three-game winning streak, its longest of the season. After a slow 3-6 start to the season, the Spartans have won four of their last five and eight of 11.
Michigan State has scored first in all 11 of its wins this season. Seventeen different players have recorded at least a goal or an assist this year for the Spartans. Abby Barker leads the attack with 14 goals while Allie Ahern has recorded 11. The two have combined for 10 game-winning goals this season, with Barker's six ranking the third most in the Big Ten.
Barker ranks fourth in the Big Ten in points (30) and third in goals scored (14). Ahern is also on the leader board in the Big Ten in scoring, ranking ninth in points (25) and seventh in goals (11).
Jenni Smith leads the team and is third in the Big Ten with 10 assists, while Katherine Jamieson is second on the team with seven. MSU has recorded 44 assist as a team, tied for the most in the Big Ten.
Michigan State has had three different players record a hat trick this season in four different games. Abby Barker recorded a hat trick in both games against Indiana, while Allie Ahern (Pacific, 9/1) and Kather- ine Jamieson (Iowa, 11/2) have both accomplished the feat.
Jamieson was selected as the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week for her seven point effort against the Hawkeyes. Her seven points in a game was the third highest mark in the Big Ten this season, and she became the first Offensive Player of the Week for Michigan State since Floor Rijpma (Nov. 2, 2009).
Junior back Jenni Smith has had a recent point surge, tallying seven assists over the last five games. Smith was the other Spartan to be given a weekly award from the conference this season, as she was Co- Defensive Player of the Week for Oct. 15.
On the defensive side, goalkeeper Molly Cassidy has made 92 saves this season, the second most in the Big Ten. Cassidy turned away a season high 12 shots against Penn State (10/19) and recorded her first shutout of the season against Northeastern (9/20). MSU's five team shutouts ranks third in the Big Ten, while Michigan State goalies have combined for 101 saves this season, the second most in the conference.
Alli Helwig has made four defensive saves for MSU this season and Kristen Henn is the only other Spartan defender to record one. Freshman Adrea Donaldson, Megan Fenton, Kristen Matuala and Shelby Supica have all picked up their first career goals in the Green and White.
Five Michigan State field hockey players were named to the All-Big Ten teams, as announced by the Conference office on Thursday. Junior forward Abby Barker was a First Team All-Big Ten selection and Becky Stiles, Katherine Jamieson and Molly Cassidy were all selected to the Second Team. Senior Katherine Jamieson was recognized as MSU's Sportsmanship Award Honoree.
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
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.
The Spartans roster features 12 underclassmen (11 freshmen, three sopho- mores), 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 19 games to start the season, and the top seven point scorers on the team are all upperclassmen.
PLAYING THE BEST
MSU faced eight teams from last year's NCAA tournament in its 19-game schedule. The non-conference portion of the season featured 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 (10th).
Four teams that the Spartans faced in conference play also currently sit in the rankings. Michigan State recorded wins over No. 18 Michigan and No. 20 Iowa, and suffered losses to No. 6 Penn State and No. 13 Northwestern.
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 Cham- pionships 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.