Nov. 2, 2011
Evanston, Ill. - After battling through 110 minutes of scoreless soccer, Michigan State senior goalie Jill Flietstra made two saves on penalty kicks to advance the Spartans into the semifinals of the 2011 Big Ten Tournament on Friday. MSU was a perfect 4-for-4 on its first kicks, and the senior keeper was the game's shining star as the team advanced in the Tournament. It was her third consecutive shutout and 10th of the season.
As it turns out, the Big Ten Tournament shootout was nothing new for Flietstra, as in 2008 the then-freshman had her coming-out party in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament in a scoreless tie against Illinios, where she also pulled off the saves on penalty kicks to advance Michigan State into the semifinals. It was that game that somewhat cemented the Hudsonville, Mich., native as the program's starting keeper, a performance which she repeated as she and her nine senior teammates began their final postseason run.
The Spartans (14-5-1) did a nice job all afternoon of bottling up the Iowa offense, many times stuffing the attack before the Hawkeyes could establish anything near the 28-yard box. MSU created offense on it's counter-attack, with both Katelin Chaklos and Kelsey Kassab serving the ball as the Spartans pressed for a goal. Meanwhile, Iowa stuck with a rather conservative approach, keeping four defenders back to heavily mark senior Laura Heyboer and junior Olivia Stander, even as the game wore on through the overtime periods.
MSU's offense moved the ball well early, and the best chance for either team in the opening half was a rocket from the foot of All-Big Ten midfielder Jordan Mueller, who's shot rang off the crossbar in the 24th minute.
Flietstra was forced to make one save in the second half and then two of her five saves in the game in the first overtime period, while Emily Moran had some anxious moments, but just one save in each of those frames. Iowa pushed to get something going in the final minutes of regulation, but were blown offsides twice.
Perhaps the second-best chance of the day for either team came in the 106th minute. Heyboer served the ball from the left side to Pines, who was in the box. Her left-footed attempt sailed just wide left, and the teams played on.
In the penalty kicks, Iowa had the first shot in each round. Flietstra came out and made a statement right away, as she made the save on Jade Grimm's offering; Olivia Stander's low shot to the left side found space beneath the arm of the diving keeper to give MSU the early lead.
Morgan Showalter was the next shooter for Iowa, getting the goal high just under the crossbar and out of the reach of Flietstra. Heyboer countered for MSU with a chip shot into the right side.
All four shooters scored in the third and fourth rounds. Alex Melin crossed up Flietstra on the Hawkeyes' third shot, sending the ball to the right side as the keeper guessed left. Kelsey Kassab then calmly sent her offering into the left side. Rachel Blakesly was the fourth Hawkeye shooter, and sent a rising shot to the left side, and Steinlage's offering for MSU went into the right side out of the reach of Moran.
Freshman Cloe Lacasse, the leading scorer for Iowa, was the Hawkeyes' fifth shooter, but her shot went right into the hands of a jumping Flietstra, sealing the victory for MSU.
The Spartans will play Friday afternoon at 2:15 eastern, live on the Big Ten Network. MSU must wait until the conclusion of the Illinois-Ohio State game to learn their opponent; MSU defeated OSU in the regular season (2-0), but fell to the Illini in double overtime, 1-0.