Field Hockey Takes on No. 2 Syracuse in First Round
Nov. 15, 2013
As the three seed entering the Big Ten Tournament, MSU defeated Indiana 6-0 in the first round, advancing to play Ohio State. It took two extra periods for the Spartans to earn the 3-2 double-overtime victory over the Buckeyes. MSU advanced to its fourth Big Ten Tournament championship game in school history, taking on Iowa. Needing a win to earn a bid into the NCAA tournament, the Spartans erased a 2-0 halftime deficit by scoring three unanswered goals, as Tournament MVP Abby Barker scored twice and senior Adelle Lever capped the victory with the game -winner with seven minutes remaining in regulation. It was MSU's fourth Big Ten Tournament title in program history, and first since 2009.
Selection Sunday came around, placing the Spartans in a play-in game against Miami (Oh). MSU dominated possession and scoring opportunities throughout the game, holding Miami without a shot in the first half. Allie Ahern netted the first two goals for the Spartans before Abby Barker tacked on an insurance goal, giving Michigan State the 3-0 victory to survive and advance. Molly Cassidy made three saves for the Spartans in net.
MSU and Syracuse met earlier this season in East Lansing, when the Orange defeated Michigan State 4-0 as part of the Auto-Owners Insurance MSU Invitational.
Syracuse is 9-0 at home this season, while MSU was 2-5 on the road.
With Wednesday's win over Miami, Michigan State improves to 7-2 all-time in its opening-round game of the NCAA Tournament.
MSU is currently on a five-game winning streak, its longest of the season. After a slow 3-6 start, the Spartans have won six of seven and 10 out of 13.
Michigan State is one of two Big Ten teams to make the tournament, the other being Big Ten regular season co-champion Penn State. The Nittany Lions take on Ivy League champ Princeton in the First Round.
The Spartans played six teams during the regular season that made the 19-team NCAA Tournament field.
MSU's defeat of Iowa in the B1G Championship game improved the Spartans record to 4-0 all-time when reaching the title game.
Abby Barker was named the B1G Tournament MVP. She scored five of MSU's 11 goals in three games over the course of the tournament. Barker was joined on the All-Tournament Team by goalkeeper Molly Cassidy.
Michigan State's 3-2 comeback win over Iowa after trailing 2-0 marked the first time this season that the Spartans won a game in which they didn't score first. Michigan State has scored first in all 12 of its other wins.
Seventeen different players have recorded at least a goal or an assist this year for the Spartans. Abby Barker leads the attack with 17 goals while Allie Ahern has recorded 13. The two have combined for 11 game-winning goals this season, with Barker's six ranking the third most in the Big Ten.
Barker ranks third in the Big Ten in both points (36) and goals scored (17). Ahern is also on the leader board in the Big Ten in scoring, ranking sixth in points (29) and fourth in goals (13).
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 Katherine 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 (11/2). 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 eight assists over the last seven 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 97 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 six team shutouts ranks third in the Big Ten, while Michigan State goalies have combined for 106 saves this season, tied for the most in the Big Ten.
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.
RELYING ON EXPERIENCE
MSU's 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 22 games to start the season, and the top eight point scorers on the team are all upperclassmen.
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