The last time the Michigan women’s soccer team lost to Michigan State was in 2017. Since then, Wolverines coach Jen Klein dominated the series with the in-state rival, but was unable to maintain the streak in East Lansing on Sunday.
Michigan was challenged all game by the Spartan attackers and failed to find any success on the offensive side of the ball. The Wolverines (6-5-3 overall, 1-3-2 Big Ten) lost to the Spartans (10-1-3, 5-0-1), 2-0, in a one-sided affair.
Coming into the game, the last time Michigan scored a goal in the first half was in non-conference play against Toledo. That story continued in the first half, as the Wolverines offense produced a measly two shots to Michigan State’s 10.
“What we’re learning is how to be more consistent overall and over 90 minutes, and how to respond to situations that may bring us a bit of adversity,” Klein said. “This is a season where we need to stay committed to the process and continue to fight and grow.”
On the other hand, the Spartans produced two corners and two shots on target in the first 10 minutes of the game. While graduate goalkeeper Izzy Nino came up with three early first half saves to keep the Wolverines in the game, their lack of defensive intensity made it hard for anything to get started on the counter attack.
“Their movement, rotation, and interchanges were really good,” Klein said. “They pushed some players into different spaces which created some confusion within our defensive rotations.”
Michigan State opened up the scoring in the 40th minute, with a goal by forward Jordyn Wickes, assisted by forward Lauren DeBeau.
Adjustments needed to be made in order for the Wolverines to keep themselves in the game. Initially, it seemed to work.
“Our team responded pretty well after halftime and I thought the first ten minutes of the second half we came out with some good energy and had a few more chances a little higher up the field,” Klein said.
In the second half, Michigan controlled much more possession. Junior forward Sammi Woods catalyzed the surge on offense with three of the team’s eight shots. However, the fast paced Michigan State offense created even more second half chances that the Wolverines could not contain.
In the 64th minute, DeBeau scored the Spartans second goal off an assist from midfielder Justina Gaynor. DeBeau totalled seven shots, four of which were on goal, in addition to her one goal and one assist. The second goal highlighted how the Wolverines’ struggle to maintain their efforts throughout the entire game.
“They have some good attacking personalities, but our lack of collective and connective defending really allowed for them to create some overload and chances,” Klein said.
With only four games left in the regular season and the Big Ten tournament approaching rapidly, the Wolverines have a new sense of urgency to figure out how to cultivate energy for 90 minutes of every game.
“We have to find some results over the next four games so hopefully we can rebound and get ourselves organized again and we’ll be good to go,” Klein said.
Michigan, last season’s defending champs, made it to the Big Ten tournament every year since 2017. But now, this year is anything but a guarantee.