EAST LANSING, MIch. - It was a back-and-forth defensive battle that could have gone either way, but in the end Michigan State was able to sneak away with a 1-0 victory over the Miami University field hockey team on Sunday. The RedHawks fall to 0-4 on the season, while the Spartans improve to 3-1.
"We competed hard for 70 minutes," said head coach Iñako Puzo. "We were loyal to our game plan, and we played strong against a quality team. We paid for our mistakes, but today's performance will help us build and move in the direction we want to go."
"We played well together as a team today," added freshman midfielder Bea Dechant. "We fought hard, and we never gave up. It was a full team effort for us today."
Miami controlled play during the early portion of the game, not allowing Michigan State to even attempt a shot for nearly 20 minutes. The RedHawks got two penalty corner attempts during that time, but Spartan goalkeeper Molly Cassidy was able to turn aside shots from Jordan Long and Camerin Colby.
Once MSU was able to bring some offensive pressure, the Miami defense showed it was equally up to the task. In the 22nd minute a shot from Jessica Lindner was turned away by Leni Gross. The rebound came right back to Lindner, but a second shot was saved by the RedHawks' goalkeeper Sarah Mueller. In another impressive sequence in the 24th minute, Mueller would make two more saves, followed by another defensive save from Gross. Neither team would get another strong offensive chance and the game went into halftime scoreless.
Mueller would make two more saves off of penalty corner shots during the first 15 minutes of the second half. In the 51st minute the Spartans would finally break through as Kristen Henn would one-time her penalty corner shot into the back of the net to put MSU in front.
The Spartans had a chance to make it 2-0 five minutes later when they were awarded a penalty stroke. However, Mueller would deny them as she made a kick save to keep the deficit at one.
Miami used the momentum of that stop as it would have all the remaining offensive chances for the game. Shots by Ali Froede and Dechant off of penalty corner attempts were both stopped by Cassidy. With time expiring, Michigan State was whistled for a foul inside the circle awarding Miami one last penalty corner. Despite the clock reading 0:00, the game would continue until either the RedHawks scored or the Spartans cleared it out of the circle. Valentina Neira would take the corner and Dechant would get a good shot off, but Cassidy was once again able to make the save and MSU cleared the ball to end the game with a 1-0 win.
The Spartans held an 11-7 shot advantage for the game. The teams each had five penalty corner attempts. Dechant led Miami with two shots, both of which were on goal. Mueller made seven saves in net.
"We competed for the full 70 minutes," said Froede."We moved for each other, and we supported the ball for the entire game. We grew up as a team today."
After four contests on the road to begin the season, Miami returns home to face Longwood next Saturday at 11 a.m. The RedHawks will then travel to Columbus to take on 15th-ranked Ohio State on Sunday, Sept. 9 at 1 p.m.
"We have now faced four top-25 level teams in the first two weekends of the season," said Puzo. "While it has been a challenge, it has been an excellent process for us and this game shows that we are moving forward."