UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Michigan State women's soccer accomplished one of the most significant feats in program history Thursday night, as the Spartans recorded the first top-10 win in at least a decade with a 2-1 result over the No. 6 Penn State Nittany Lions on Jeffrey Field.
In the 30th meeting in the all-time series between Penn State and Michigan State, the Green & White recorded their first-ever victory over the Nittany Lions on the road. MSU is now 2-1 against top-25 opponents and improves to 8-1-3 overall in 2022. The Spartans own a 3-0-1 ledger in Big Ten Conference play, marking the first undefeated start through four games of league action in MSU history. In defeat, Penn State drops to 7-2-2 overall with a 2-1-1 record against league foes.
The box score saw PSU build up a 16-8 edge in shot attempts coupled with an 8-5 lead in shots on goal. Corner kicks came in abundance Thursday night, as the Nittany Lions registered nine to MSU's six. Junior midfielder Justina Gaynor and sophomore forward Jordyn Wickes booked the Spartan scores for the evening, while Wickes joined graduate forward Camryn Evans and junior forward MJ Andrus with one assist apiece.
One of the most highly anticipated games of the season lived up to the billing early on, as both teams matched each other's intensity. Penn State owned a slim 4-3 edge in shot attempts through the 25th minute, also logging the only shot on goal to that point, but the score remained deadlocked as both squads settled in.
Michigan State's offense ramped up the pressure as the first half wore on, with Koehler logging a shot on goal in the 28th minute followed by an on-target attempt from Justina Gaynor in the 32nd. A well-timed save by senior goalkeeper Lauren Kozal in the 33rd minute kept things deadlocked, her second save of the half. MSU handled Penn State's response well, and each team returned to the locker room without a score at the break.
The Nittany Lions came out of the intermission with newfound confidence on the offensive end, racking up a litany of shots within five minutes of the start of the half. MSU's back line withstood the onslaught and continued to seek counterattack possibilities.
The Green & White built possession out following a throw-in on the near side of the field in the 58th minute. Wickes sent a pass far down the right sideline that found Evans, who threaded a feed across the penalty area to a waiting Justina Gaynor. The junior took her time, squared up and sent a powerful shot past the keeper into the back right corner of the net for MSU's first goal of the night.
Michigan State's effort on the offensive end did not yield as time continued to roll off the clock, as the Spartans registered their second goal of the night a mere 12 minutes later. A Spartan counterattack began on the righthand side of the field, with Sargeant delicately managing the ball to about five yards outside the penalty area. She passed the ball off to Wickes, who battled to the end of the box before her right-footed sliding shot sent the ball through the keeper's legs for the 2-0 MSU lead.
Penn State made the final 10 minutes interesting, as the Nittany Lion attack finally found the back of the net in the 82nd. Ally Schlegel scored an unassisted goal into the top right corner of the net off her right foot. PSU would attempt two more shots in the remaining time to no avail, and the Green & White left Pennsylvania with their first road win over Penn State in program history.
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Kozal submitted yet another virtuosic performance, earning her eighth winning decision of the season following a seven-save outing that yielded a single score. For Penn State, reigning Big Ten Goalkeeper of the Week Katherine Asman allowed two scores with three saves in 90 minutes of action.
MICHIGAN STATE QUOTES
Head Coach Jeff Hosler
On what brought Michigan State success in its historic win...
"Belief. Our players believe in the process, and they believe in one another. Everyone in our locker room is fully committed to what we are building here. This group is hungry to keep growing and to continue getting better every day."
On the team's approach Thursday night...
"Tonight was really special for us because we stuck to our identity and maintained our style of play. Penn State is the standard in the Big Ten, and they have so much quality up and down their roster. With that being said, we were up for the fight tonight, and we executed in key moments so we could come out on top."
58' – Wickes sent a pass far down the right sideline that found Evans, who threaded a feed across the penalty area to a waiting Justina Gaynor. The junior took her time, squared up and sent a powerful shot past the keeper into the back right corner of the net. MSU 1, PSU 0
70' – Spartan counterattack began on the righthand side of the field, with Sargeant delicately feeding the ball to Wickes. Her sliding right-footed shot zipped underneath the keeper between her feet into the goal for MSU's insurance score. MSU 2, PSU 0
82' – Schlegel scored an unassisted goal into the top right corner of the net off her right foot. MSU 2, PSU 1
Michigan State women's soccer continues its trek through the Northeast with its fifth league game, as the Spartans travel to face the Maryland Terrapins on Sunday, Oct. 2, in a 1 p.m. kick from Ludwig Field.