Sep 4, 2013
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State women’s soccer team looks forward to this weekend’s play against Oakland at home and then on the road to New Mexico. MSU currently owns an undefeated 3-0-1 record with no Big Ten play coming off a tie against San Diego State last Friday and a win against Dayton in their first road game.
The Spartans look to continue their undefeated streak this Thursday against Oakland in the first broadcast game of the season. The game will be live on the Big Ten Digital Network on Spartan All-Access. MSU leads the all-time series against the Grizzlies 7-2-1, but head coach Tom Saxton isn’t willing to overlook them as an opponent.
Forwards Sarena San Cartier and Meghan Reynolds lead the team with two goals apiece and three assists between the two. 2012 leading-scorer Kyla Kellermann returns for Oakland, but has yet to post a goal in the team’s four games this year. Goalkeeper Payj O’Shea has played a majority of the minutes for the Grizzlies totaling 14 saves with 12 goals allowed, and freshman Stephanie Bukovec has posted the other three of the team’s 15 goals allowed.
Looking Out for Lobos
MSU will continue weekend play in Albuquerque against New Mexico on Sunday. The Lobos have only posted two goals on the season thanks to sophomore midfielder Dylann O’Connor. Standing in goal is Cassie Ulrich with one shutout, 29 saves and only four goals allowed, playing in all four games for New Mexico and on pace to break her past season record in saves and the conference record in saves per game.
Michigan State returns 20 members of the 2012 squad this year, including seven starters. A collective effort has been a focus for the team this year, starting back when 28 members of the team participated in an exhibition against Central Michigan and 25 different players seeing action in regular season play so far.
Courtney Clem returns in goal for 2013. Clem has already accumulated 12 saves and one shutout on the season, owning a .95 GAA and .750 save percentage. Along with lone senior Kelsey Mullen, who was a contributor to a 2012 defense that gave up one goal or fewer in 14 games, the Spartans return Nicole Caruso and Mary Kathryn Fiebernitz, both of which have already recorded an assist. Saxton explains the defensive approach the team has been taking in light of last weekend’s games.
“We were very pleased with the way the team defended as a unit,” Saxton said. “We were opportunistic with our chances, which are some of the things we’ve been talking about. They were organized defensively and looked for chances. We got a little worn down with two games, so our goal will be to keep the team fresh going into Thursday against Oakland. We used seven or eight players off the bench, so we had a good collective effort.”
Sophomore 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. She has scored twice this year in four games. Megan Marsack and Paige Wester also return as leading scorers for the Spartans. Marsack is a key midfielder, recording two assists so far this year, and is supported 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 two goals. Redshirt sophomore Rachel Van Poppelen has also stepped up amongst the Spartan offense, totaling one goal and two assists in the game against Milwuakee.
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. Saxton's current career record stands at 224-178-42. 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 on the Big Ten Digital Network on Spartan All-Access for the game against Oakland, 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. 13 at 5 p.m. when MSU faces off with Bowling Green in East Lansing.