Michigan State hits the road for a pair of games this weekend against Big Ten opponents. The Spartans play at No. 14 Wisconsin on Friday before heading to Minnesota for Sunday's match with the Gophers.
Sunday's game against Minnesota will air live at 3 p.m. eastern on the Big Ten Network.
Michigan State is off to a 7-1-1 start on the season and won its Big Ten opener Sunday against Purdue. MSU is 4-0-1 in its last five games, giving up only two goals during that stretch.
Women's Soccer Shuts Out Minnesota, 3-0
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 9-2-1 (2-1 Big Ten), while goalkeeper Jill Flietstra recorded her Big Ten-leading fifth shutout of the season.
In last Sunday's Big Ten opener against Purdue, an Annie Steinlage's header gave Michigan State a 2-1 overtime victory. The game winner came with a minute to go in the first overtime period off of a corner from Olivia Stander that found Steinlage, whose header found the back of the net.
Purdue took the early lead in the 16th minute, marking just the second time this season that Michigan State allowed their opponent to score first. A goal by Allyson Krause in the 38th minute tied the game up, and the second half was a scoreless affair, sending the teams to the extra period. It looked like a second 10-minute frame might be necessary, but Steinlage's game-winner came with 77 seconds left on the clock in the first extra period.
Friday opponent Wisconsin is 6-2-0 on the season and is coming off of a 2-1 loss in their Big Ten opener at Penn State on Sunday. Paige Adams is the Badgers' leading goal scorer with four, followed by Kodee Williams and Cara Walls who have three each. Kinley McNicoll and Lindsey Johnson lead the team with four assists. Lauren Gunderson will be the likely keeper for Wisconsin. She has 30 saves so far this season and owns a 0.95 GAA and .811 save percentage.
The Badgers have won five straight games against MSU in Madison, dating back to the 2002 season. Michigan State is 4-23-2 all-time against the Badgers. Last season, the Spartans lost 2-1 to Wisconsin and beat Minnesota 3-0. Cara Walls had both UW goals, including the game-winner in the 84th minute.
Minnesota starts a three game home stand beginning Friday when they take on Michigan, and then will welcome the Spartans on Sunday. The Gophers enter the weekend with a record of 5-4 on the year and are coming off a 2-1 overtime loss in their Big Ten opener to Ohio State.
Minnesota is led by Taylor Uhl, who has a Big Ten-leading 27 points on the season. She ranks first in the Big Ten in goals (11) and is fourth in assists (5). Cat Parkill will likely be in net for the Golden Gophers with a 1.20 GAA and .756 save percentage.
The Spartans are 10-9-2 all-time against Minnesota, In 2000, the Spartans snapped a five-game losing streak to the Golden Gophers, and since, have posted a 10-1-1 record, outscoring Minnesota 19-6 with eight shutouts. The Gophers lone victory in this string is in 2007, and the teams tied, 1-1, in 2010.
In last year's 3-0 win over Minnesota, Kelsey Mullen, Olivia Stander, and Mikki Dennis had the Spartan tallies and keeper Jill Flietstra made six saves in the shutout.
MSU goalkeeper Courtney Clem has been a consistent factor in the net so far. A redshirt sophomore, Clem saw spot time last season behind multiple-MSU recordholder (and current volunteer assistant coach) Jill Flietstra. Entering her first Big Ten weekend as the Spartan starter, Clem owns the third best GAA (0.54) and save percentage (.857) in the Conference and has allowed just two goals during the Spartans current five-game unbeaten streak.
Olivia Stander ranks second in the league in assists (6) and seventh in points (12). Stander continues to climb up the MSU career scoring record books, as she now sits tied for ninth all-time for points in a career at Michigan State (70 points), ranks eighth in career assists (20) and is tied for 11th in career goals (25).
On the season, the Spartans have outscored their opponents, 16-5. The Spartans have enjoyed quick starts, with a 9-2 edge in goals scored in the first half and 6-3 in the second.
While experiencing similar victory totals, the Spartans have gained offensive contributions from more players than they did last season. In 2011, seven different players scored at least one of MSU's 37 goals, with Laura Heyboer (18) and Olivia Stander (11) carrying the bulk of the offensive load. This year, nine different players have scored a goal, and the team's leading scorers are Stander and Annie Steinlage, each with three markers. Thirteen players recorded at least one point last season, as compared with 13 so far this year just one game into the Big Ten slate.
A big part of MSU's success last season came from the ability to win on the road. MSU went 5-1-0 in 2011 in road contests, and bring a 1-0-1 mark into the Big Ten season in games played away from East Lansing. MSU faces Big Ten games at Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan, Penn State, and Ohio State this season.
Two Spartans will not appear in another game this season due to injury - senior centerback Kelsey Kassab and freshman Jessica White.
All twelve of the Big Ten's women's soccer teams came through the non-conference portion of their schedules with a .500 record or better.
Tom Saxton is in his 22nd season as the head coach of the Spartan women's soccer program. A life-long Spartan, Saxton earned three letters as a player before returning to campus in 1989 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 21 seasons, Saxton's career record stands at 213-169-39.
Tammy (Anderson) Farnum was a standout defender at MSU (1989-92) and is now in her 16th season on the staff. Stacy Heller was a standout keeper for MSU (2000-03) and was a two-time All-Big Ten pick. Jill Flietstra graduated in 2012 and joins the staff in her first post-graduate coaching position.
Megan Marsack, who had a goal and an assist in her freshman season, has already surpassed her freshman year total in both goals (2) and points (4). Lisa Vogel did not have any points as a freshman, but had a goal and two assists vs. BG. Annie Steinlage scored her first collegiate tally against Fordham, while Chelsea Peterson recorded her first college score in the win over Loyola.
Michigan State returns home for a Big Ten series next weekend. On Friday, (Sept. 28th), MSU hosts Nebraska at DeMartin stadium at 4 p.m. On Sunday, Sept. 30, the women will kick off a soccer doubleheader at DeMartin against Iowa, while the men's team will host Northwestern that day in the nightcap. Both games on Sept. 30 will air live on the Big Ten Network.