EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State women's soccer opened up the 2017 regular season with a shutout win, 2-0, over Niagara at DeMartin Stadium on Friday. Senior forward Kristelle Yewah and junior forward Lexy Warner both found the back of the net for the Spartans in the first match of the season.
Both the Spartans and Purple Eagles were unable to get on the board in the first half. MSU commanded the offense in the first stanza, managing two shots on goal and keeping Niagara without any chances for redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Reilley Ott.
"We were very disappointed with the intensity in the first half," MSU head coach Tom Saxton said. "We had a couple sparks that got things going. I thought in the last half hour we played like we need to play to be a successful team this year. We had a couple good individual plays. We just have to crank up our intensity, and it's going to have to happen this weekend, because we have a big opponent coming up on Sunday."
The spark in the second half came from Yewah, who connected on a rebound from sophomore midfielder Sadie Misiewicz in the 54th minute. Yewah had a wide open net from eight yards out after Misiewicz hit the post, netting the first goal of the Spartan women's soccer season.
"I'm pleased with Kristelle [Yewah]," Saxton said. "I thought she had a good game today. When we started to use her properly and move the ball quicker out of the back, she did a nice job of finding her chances in the goal. She was looking to set up Jamie [Cheslik] a couple times. She had a good day today."
The second and final goal of the match came in the 68th minute from Warner, who found an opening after a pass from freshman midfielder Danielle Stephan. Warner slid the ball past Niagara goalkeeper Sabrina Locas on a breakaway.
Stephan received a starting nod, the only freshman to do so, and earned her first career point with the assist on Warner's goal.
"She's a great addition to our team," Saxton said. "She sees the game so well. She's got great long passing ability and she shoots the ball well, as we saw in our preseason. She had a good debut, for sure."
MSU looks to continue rolling at home, defending DeMartin Stadium against Washington at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 20. Saxton said the team must bring their second half intensity throughout the game.
"You can't get off to a slow start and find yourself behind the 8-ball right away," Saxton said. "The team that scores first in our sport wins the majority of games so we cannot have a first half like we had today."