Sept. 18, 2013
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State women’s soccer team opens Big Ten play in Lincoln this Thursday at 3 p.m. at the Nebraska Soccer Field. The Spartans hope to remain undefeated in the race to the Big Ten Tournament.
Big Red Breakdown
Nebraska enters conference play 4-2-1, with their last match ending in a 2-1 victory over San Diego. The Huskers have gone undefeated at home so far this season and MSU head coach Tom Saxton understands the challenges that lie ahead.
“This is a whole different season,” said Saxton. “We feel good about what we accomplished in the non-league portion of our schedule, in particular how our process has progressed. I’m a little concerned in the fact that it’s a short week. We just need to be ready for the pace of play and to transition from offense to defense and vice versa.”
Nebraska is led in goal by senior Emma Stevens who totals 20 saves and nine goals allowed. Stevens currently owns a .690 Sv% and 1.27 GAA. She is assisted on defense by seniors Kylie Greischar and Ari Romero. True freshman Jaycie Johnson leads the team in goals with five and also owns an assist. Mayme Conroy follows with three goals and Jordan Jackson and Sydney Miramontez round out the other multiple-goal scorers each at two. A total of eight Huskers have scored at least once this season.
The Notorious B1G
Michigan State is currently one of three undefeated teams in the Big Ten along with Iowa and Indiana. The Spartans look to separate themselves from the pack for a run at the Big Ten Championship this year. Despite missing the Tournament last year, Saxton thinks the team is prepared with the confidence from their undefeated streak.
“I think they feel good,” said Saxton. “I think they realize it’s going to be a higher level now and that every game will be a tough challenge in the Big Ten. They have to feel good about what they’ve accomplished to this point and you can see it in their eyes.”
MSU stands at fourth in saves in the conference at 36 behind Northwestern at 42 and Penn State and Illinois at 37 each. The Spartans are tied for fifth with Michigan and Minnesota for goals with 18. Courtney Clem stands at sixth in the conference with her .821 Sv% . Clem is also tied for fourth with 23 saves and is at third with 3.83 saves per game.
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 27 different players seeing action in regular-season play so far.
Courtney Clem returns in goal for 2013. Clem has already accumulated 23 saves and one shutout on the season, owning a .87 GAA and .821 Sv%. Gabrielle Gauruder stepped up in the net to finish a shutout over New Mexico. After two games, she’s totaled thirteen saves and three goals allowed. Lone senior Kelsey Mullen heads up the defense with Nicole Caruso and Mary Kathryn Fiebernitz. Fiebernitz has taken over as the team’s leading scorer with three goals and one assist. The back line looks to remain organized in play and has held their opponents to only eight goals in eight games.
Sophomore Allyson Krause heads up the offense while tied with Mary Kathryn Fiebernitz for seven points. She has totaled two goals and three assists. Jessica White follows in points with three goals and is tied for six points with Erica Goodenough. Goodenough has totaled two goals and two assists so far in the season. Three members of the squad (Caruso, Rachel Van Poppelen and Alexandra Gjonaj) total four points coming from a goal and two assists.
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 226-178-43. 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 on the Big Ten Network, on GameTracker, on the official mobile app of the MSU Spartans or on Twitter @MSU_wsoccer.
The 2013 season will continue when MSU takes on Minnesota at home on Sept. 27 at 2 p.m.