Sept. 25, 2011
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Behind a balanced offensive attack, the Michigan State women's soccer team shut out Minnesota, 3-0, Sunday afternoon at DeMartin Stadium. Three different players scored goals for the Spartans, who improved to 9-2 (2-1 Big Ten), while goalkeeper Jill Flietstra recorded her Big Ten-leading fifth shutout of the season.
"That was the most important thing, to show the resiliency and the ability to bounce back," said MSU head coach Tom Saxton, as the Spartans were coming off a tough 2-1 loss to Wisconsin on Friday that snapped an eight-game winning streak. "That's a credit to our seniors - they came out with full intention of playing our best game to this point in the season. It wasn't a perfect game, it was a little erratic, especially early, but I'm really proud of how they answered the call."
MSU got on the board first in the 29th minute as sophomore Kelsey Mullen was the beneficiary of an excellent pass by Laura Heyboer in the front of the net. Heyboer, who leads the nation in goals with 14, this time provided the assist as she found Mullen to her left, and Mullen drilled it home in the left corner of the net for her first career goal.
"Scoring first in college soccer, and soccer in general, is huge," Saxton said. "That gives you the confidence and it got them to back up a little bit. We talked at halftime of having the mentality of putting them away, and the kids did it."
Michigan State extended its lead in the 56th minute as Olivia Stander scored her 10th goal of the season. After a nice pass from Hannah Peterson, Stander found herself with a one-on-one on the right side of the box against Minnesota defender Lauren Baier. Stander then made an impressive stutter move to clear space from Baier, and struck it past Gopher goalie Cat Parkhill.
Stander was also back in the middle of the action on MSU's third goal in the 68th minute. In the midst of a crowd in the front of the net, the junior forward passed to her left and found senior Mikki Dennis, who placed it in for her first goal of the season. Stander now has 27 points on the season.
"Both Laura and Olivia made that extra pass in the box to create scoring chances and goals for players who haven't been on the sheet before," remarked Saxton. "It was smart on their part, it was good decision making, and it's really nice to see some hard workers that do the dirty work most of the time get some of the glory."
Although Minnesota (4-6-1, 1-1-1) only took nine shots, Flietstra compiled six saves, including a stop on a breakaway attempt in the 38th minute by Gopher forward Sheridan Reiners. Flietstra also withstood a flurry of three Gopher shots in about 10 seconds late in the second half, posting back-to-back saves before the third shot sailed wide.
"Very nice performance (for Jill), especially at the end there were it was a little loose again and she made a series of great saves to keep it a clean sheet for her," said Saxton. "It was a well-earned shutout."
Following Mullen's goal in the first half, Michigan State controlled the tempo of the game. Overall, the Spartans held advantages in both shots (13-9) and corner kicks (7-2).
It marks the fifth time this season the Spartans have scored at least three goals in a game. The 3-0 win is also MSU's sixth shutout victory in 2011.
The Spartans return to action on Friday, Sept. 30 to take on Nebraska in Lincoln, Neb.