Women's Soccer Takes Exhibition Opener At Toledo, 4-2
Freshman Gia Wahlberg scored two goals in her collegiate debut.
TOLEDO, Ohio -- Freshman forward Gia Wahlberg scored two first-half goals to lead Michigan State women's soccer to a 4-2 victory over Toledo in the first exhibition game of the 2018 season Thursday in front of 300 at Scott Park.
How It Happened: The Spartans were aggressive from the start looking to take an early lead. MSU put pressure on the Toledo defense by controlling possession and keeping the ball on the Rockets side of the field throughout the first 10 minutes.
That led to the first goal of the season for the Spartans in the 11th minute. Junior Celia Oatis struck a ball from 24 yards out that went over the head of Toledo keeper Madison Perrin and found the back of the net to give MSU a 1-0 lead.
“We talked about getting numbers in the box pregame and we had plenty of chances,” MSU head coach Tom Saxton said. “We played a regular rotation in the first half and that went well. We met all of our objectives, and it was nice to see some inexperienced players go on and keep things going for us.”
Toledo found an equalizer in the 16th minute, converting a penalty kick after the Spartans were called for a handball in the box. That was one of just two shots the Rockets were able to manage in the opening 45 minutes against a strong MSU defense and back line.
Wahlberg scored her first collegiate goal in the 20th minute after she sent a cross in to the box that was deflected into the net off a Toledo defender. She found the net again in the 33rd minute, finishing a break away with a strong shot that was saved by Perrin and deflected in off a defender once again, giving MSU the 3-1 advantage.
Redshirt-junior Brittany Tanner rounded out the MSU scoring in the 79th minute when junior Lydia Franks pressured Toledo deep in their own end and forced a turnover that left a tap-in for Tanner to find the net and a 4-2 lead.
“It all starts with organization on defense and who’s pressuring the ball; that starts with the goalkeeper,” Saxton said. “Both goalkeepers did well keeping things organized in front of them and we were able to limit them a bit. That was nice to see.”
The Spartans out-shot Toledo 18-6, including 8-2 in the first half. Both teams took three corner kicks and made three saves.
Up Next: Michigan State wraps up the two-game exhibition slate with a 7 p.m. kickoff against Central Michigan Saturday at DeMartin Stadium.