No. 12 Michigan State upset by Iowa in opening round of Big Ten Tournament

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Oliviah Klinski

EAST LANSING – Michigan State hosted the Big Ten women’s soccer quarterfinal at DeMartin Stadium on Sunday. Michigan State came into the game owning the top seed in the tournament, with a 12-3-3 overall record and a 7-1-2 in Big Ten play.  Iowa entered the game as the #8 seed with a 9-4-4 record overall and a 3-4-3 record in the Big Ten. The two teams faced each other during conference play just a week ago when MSU defeated Iowa 3-0.  

Iowa came out playing with a fire under them after allowing three goals to the Spartans in their previous meet-up. The majority of the initial minutes were spent in the Spartans’ defending third as they struggled to find an offensive rhythm.

The first half was very physical, with MSU collecting six fouls, and Iowa picking up eight. Eva Pattison picked up a yellow card in the 23rd minute.  There weren’t a lot of shots on goal for either team in the first half; only two for each team.  However, in the last five minutes of the half, MSU had a couple of chances and was able to capitalize on one of them.

As the Spartans began to attack, a change of field cross to Raegan Cox allowed her to get a cross off into the box which bounced around a couple of players before Bella Najera was able to give a soft touch short pass inside the six-yard box to Emerson Sargeant for the goal. The half ended 1-0 for Michigan State.

Iowa came out with renewed energy in the second half. Less than five minutes after the break, Iowa leveled the game with a low center strike from Kelli McGroarty on the assist from Samantha Cary.  Just five minutes later, Iowa got the go-ahead goal from a corner kick set piece. Samantha Cary sent a beautiful cross into the box and Sofia Bush was able to find the back of the net.

The pace definitely quickened following the back-to-back goals. The Spartans had multiple opportunities in the last 20 minutes of play to level the game, but couldn’t capitalize on it.  Iowa smothered the defensive end, especially inside the 18-yard box, to keep MSU from getting a clean shot off.  Iowa emptied the field leaving just one player high whenever MSU got into the final third of the pitch. 

MSU took a corner kick late in the game that juggled around before being sent out of the box by Iowa.  Then another juggle between multiple MSU players that ended with Macy Ennicking falling on the ball to collect it.  In the final seconds, a free kick set up another opportunity for MSU but Iowa’s defense swarmed the box once again, and Justina Gaynor’s shot went wide left to end the game.  

“Their intensity was really hard for us to match,” Coach Jeff Hosler said, “Their mentality coming out of halftime to take the game to us, I don’t think we responded very well.”

Michigan State ended with nine shots, two on goal, and Kaitlyn Parks had six saves.  Iowa ended with 11 shots, eight on goal, with Ennicking recording one save.  Iowa a week ago during the regular season game had 22 fouls, and only committed 13 in the quarterfinal, a change in their style of play gave them a chance to oust the reigning Big Ten champs from the playoffs.  

Iowa will go on to face Penn State in Columbus, Ohio, at Field on Thursday, November 2 for the semi-finals.  Michigan State will now shift their focus to the NCAA tournament. 

“The silver lining of this is that we get two weeks to prepare and the whole week to truly focus on ourselves this week and get better in some areas we clearly have to improve,” Hosler said.  “Then we’ll find out next Monday who that opponent is, and have a few more days to prepare for that opponent specifically.”

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