Despite coming back from a 2-0 deficit, the Eastern Michigan University women’s soccer team lost to the Michigan State Spartans, 3-2 in their return to Scicluna Field on Sunday.
Down 2-0 late in the second half, EMU (1-4-1) got goals from junior forward Bianca Rossi and senior Stephanie Clarke to tie the game at two. But Michigan State (6-0-2) redshirt junior defender Mary Kathryn Fiebernitz converted on her second penalty kick of the game in the 88th minute to give them the victory.
“We’ve shown that we can go toe-to-toe with anyone,” EMU head coach Scott Hall said about his team. “We started connecting and combining on offense and our play out of the back and midfield were good, in terms of serving the ball up. We now have to find a way to start getting the results and winning games.”
Rossi’s goal was her second of the season and was assisted by junior defender Marisa Kozikowski, her second of the year. Sophomore goalkeeper Megan McCabe stopped four of the seven shots
on net she faced in the loss.
Fiebernitz converted on both penalty kicks for the Spartans, scoring her second and third goals on the season. Freshman forward Michelle Dear opened the scoring in the 44th minute with her first collegiate goal, assisted by sophomore Allyson Krause.
The Spartans applied slight pressure on to the Eagle defense early, sending two shots over the goal and one into the hands of McCabe, all within the first seven minutes. The first Eagle opportunity came in the tenth minute, when junior midfielder Molli Krick sprinted into space on the right side of the pitch, but her shot was handled by redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Gabrielle Gauruder.
Michigan State continued to attack and nearly scored in the 15th minute, after Dear sent a crossed ball off the outside of the EMU goal post. But the Eastern offense swung momentum back into their favor in 22nd, when Clarke tested Gauruder from the top of the 18-yard box. The shot was saved, but the Eagles used that momentum to dominate the possession in the MSU third of the pitch and gained three corners in ten minutes.
The EMU defense stood strong for the first 45 minutes of the game, not allowing a Michigan State shot on goal for nearly the entire first half. But the Spartans upped their attack in the last five minutes of the first half and the pressure paid off in the 44th minute.
Krause split the right side of Eagles defense and dropped a well placed pass onto the foot of an open Dear on the left side, who slotted the ball past a diving McCabe to give the Spartans a 1-0 lead right before the end of the first half.
Both offenses came out strong to begin the second half, as both goalkeepers were forced into making saves, including a diving save by McCabe that kept the Spartans from doubling their lead.
Dear corralled a bouncing ball in the 70th minute and broke free past the Eagles defense. McCabe left her line to challenge the oncoming attack, but her tackle came too late and the referee called a penalty kick for the Spartans. Fiebernitz put the ball into the upper left corner of the goal to give Michigan State a 2-0 lead.
Going into the 75th minute down 2-0, things looked bleak for EMU, but they never wavered. In the 74th, Kozikowski sprung Rossi through the right side of the MSU defense and she beat the keeper with a shot to cut the deficit to 2-1.
The goal awoke the Eastern offense and they began to push the Spartan defense with full force and moments after Clarke’s shot hit the crossbar, the senior attempted another one that was knocked down in the box by a defender’s hand. The referee awarded Eastern with the penalty kick and Clarke beat Gaurder to tie the game at 2-2 in the 79th minute.
“PK’s are pretty much all mental so I just had to pick my spot and put it away,” Clarke said about her game-tying goal.
With the score tied again, the game looked to be headed into an overtime session, when disaster struck the Eagles defense in the 88th minute. The teams were battling for possession in the Eastern box when an EMU defender tripped a Spartan forward and the referee awarded Michigan State with a penalty kick, the third of the match. Fiebernitz stepped in again to take the penalty and she beat McCabe to give the Spartans a 3-2 lead with 2:40 left on the clock.
Eastern pushed back as hard as they could in the final two minutes, and nearly tied the game again when junior forward Angela Vultaggio drilled the post with a strike, but the ball deflected out of play and the Eagles lost the bout 3-2.
“It’s just unlucky the way things go sometimes,” Clarke said on her team’s performance. “You won’t see many games where 3 PK’s are called.”
The Eagles host to Stetson University on Friday Sept. 20th at Scicluna Field. Game time starts at 5 p.m. and live stats can be followed on emueagles.com.
Follow me on Twitter: @JdyeEMUEcho.