Aug 29, 2013
EAST LANSING, Mich. - After winning both games of its season opener, the undefeated Michigan State women’s soccer team looks to step up for a new challenge when it faces off with San Diego State at home on Friday, Aug. 30 at 5 p.m. MSU continues the weekend with its first road game against Dayton on Sept. 1 at 1 p.m.
Scouting San Diego State
San Diego State heads into East Lansing coming off a 1-0 victory over Saint Mary’s last Sunday, bringing the team to 1-1-0 record overall and 0-0-0 in the Mountain West Conference. Currently ranked at No. 21 by the NSCAA Coaches, this will be the first meeting between the Spartans and the Aztecs and head coach Tom Saxton looks forward to the challenges SDSU presents as a team that’s played well on the road, not losing an away game since 2011.
“Every game is an opportunity and some opportunities, because of the quality or the RPI level of the opponent, are bigger opportunities than others,” said Saxton. “San Diego State is an outstanding team, one of the best teams in the country last year. I’m expecting them to be a top-25 team throughout this year. Especially getting a chance to play them at our place, if we can get any type of positive result out if this game, it could go a long way for this team growing towards a possible post-season game. That’s something we all realize.
“We also know in terms of the intrinsic stuff we’ve talked about before is that we have to continue to get better in each area of the game, each and every game, to take that next step as I’ve talked about. There were some positives, some negatives and there’s always going to be some consistency issues this early in the season with a young or a veteran team. Becoming more consistent in how we play will help us have a chance against San Diego State.”
San Diego State returns 16 letterwinners from a successful 2012 squad, including seven starters. The 2013 Aztecs look to top-returning scorer Hannah Keane and Jensen Skinner to lead the team’s offense, while starting goalkeeper Melanie Vaughn looks to add saves in her first season in goal, having already accumulated seven in both of the team’s games thus far.
The Down-Low on Dayton
The Spartans continue the weekend with their first road game of the season in Dayton, Ohio. The last meeting between the teams was in 2002, when the Flyers earned a 1-0 victory. However, MSU looks to turn the tables this time around on Dayton, who comes to the match with a 1-1-0 record on the season. Dayton brings in three goals on the season, coming from Juliana Libertin, Ashley Campbell, and Stephanie Emery and goalkeeper Elizabeth James brings in six saves from Dayton’s two games.
Michigan State returns 20 members of the 2012 squad this year, including seven starters. 28 members of the team participated in an exhibition against Central Michigan last weekend, playing in three 30-minute periods. Courtney Clem returns in goal for 2013. Last year, she recorded three shutouts and is currently listed on the Madness Big Ten Preseason All-Conference Second Team along with lone senior Kelsey Mullen, who was a contributor to a 2012 defense that gave up one goal or fewer in 14 games. Clem has already accumulated six saves and one shutout on the season in two games. Assisting the defense, the Spartans also return Nicole Caruso and Mary Kathryn Fiebernitz. Listed as a top-20 player in the Big Ten by TopDrawerSoccer.com, Allyson Krause heads up the offense as she returns as the team's leading scorer. Michigan State was 3-1 in 2012 when Krause scored a goal and has already scored a goal this season against Milwaukee. Megan Marsack and Paige Wester also return as leading scorers for the Spartans. Marsack is a key midfielder, assisted by returning sophomore Sarah Kovan and junior Lisa Vogel, who has scored one goal so far this season. Jessica White has also contributed in the midfield position, scoring a goal in each game this season. Redshirt sophomore Rachel Van Poppelen has stepped up amongst the Spartan offense, totaling one goal and two assists in the game against Milwuakee. Head coach Tom Saxton looks to continue to develop his team’s unity through communication.
“The one thing that we’ve just continued to hammer on is the communication level between all of these players, being able to provide feedback to each other, which is both emotional and technical communication,” said Saxton. “They made progress over the weekend in that area, so that baseline communication is incredibly important. We still need it on a consistent basis and everybody who goes into the game has to continue to do that. The other thing is that I think we really showed at times, especially against Wisconsin-Milwaukee, how we can gel as an offensive team in terms of connecting with each other."
Heading it Up
Tom Saxton returns in 2013 as head coach for the 23rd year. A life-long Spartan, Saxton has spent more than half of his life involved with MSU soccer, earning three letters as a player before returning to campus in 1986 to assist legendary Spartan soccer coach Joe Baum with both the men's and the new women's program. Saxton was appointed the second head coach in the history of the women's program on June 1, 1991. In 22 seasons, Saxton's career record stands at 221-178-41. Associate head coach Tammy Farnum returns to Spartan soccer for the 17th year as another former player who helped guide the Spartans to their first NCAA appearance in school history in 2002 and was instrumental in helping MSU get back to the tournament in 2005 and 2008. Rounding out the coaching staff are assistant coach Stacy Heller, working with the Spartan goalkeepers, and first-year volunteer coach and former player Laura Heyboer.
Spartan soccer can be followed live online with GameTracker on MSUSpartans.com, on the official mobile app of the MSU Spartans or on Twitter @MSU_wsoccer. The 2013 season will continue on Sept. 5 at 5 p.m. when the Spartans face off with Oakland in East Lansing.