Coming off an NCAA tournament appearance last season, women’s soccer started this season with a new coach, the loss of a teammate and their eyes on another tournament appearance.
The exhibition against Michigan State University Aug. 18 was the team’s only tune-up in preparation for the opener against Detroit, Sunday in Mount Pleasant.
Head coach Peter McGahey said he liked the team’s ability to focus late in the game, which led to a game-winning goal in the third period.
“I think it’s a great tribute to the girls in terms of their attitude that they put into the game,” McGahey said. “It was a fantastic start to the season to score a goal so late in the third. It was an absolute tribute to the women’s character.”
The only goal of the game came in the 89th minute. Sophomore defender Emily Basten was the difference in the game, knocking the ball in the goal over the goalkeeper’s head.
Basten said the win was great and the game-winning goal was a team effort.
“The goal definitely started from the back. We were able to win it right from the defensive line,” Basten said. “Everybody had a hand in it, kicking it up the field and I just happened to be in on the end of it. It was a total team effort.”
McGahey said that the team’s ability to apply pressure defensively was the key in the victory.
“I thought defensively we were very good in terms of the collective pressure we were able to put on the ball and at times get them to play faster than they wanted to,” McGahey said. “The most important part defensively today was that we covered for each other when things broke down.”
MSU had its first shot on goal in the 24th minute, missing high over the net.
Junior Grace Labrecque started in goal for the Chippewas. The team lost its starting goalkeeper, Stefanie Turner, and will be looking for others to step up this season.
Although there was only one goal in the game, McGahey said he thought that the relentless attacking style the team played with, kept MSU on its heels leading to that lone goal.
“Offensively playing a team like Michigan State, who is very organized, we were very persistent in the attack, and we did the right things. The ability to keep passing was the key today for us,” McGahey said.
Labrecque made a diving save in the twelfth minute, keeping MSU off the board.
At the 8:05 mark, junior midfielder Emily Cooksey was given a penalty kick after junior forward Laura Gosse was grabbed from behind running toward the goal.
The kick missed above the goal, and the game remained scoreless.
Senior midfielder Kaely Schlosser gave the Chippewas their best scoring chance when she missed wide right by just a few feet.
Throughout the second half, neither team could find any consistency offensively. Both defenses held strong in the second period, just as they did in the first.
Many athletes received playing time, giving the new coaching staff the first opportunity to see the team in play in a live game.
Senior forward Jennifer Gassman had a scoring chance during the 53rd minute, but was denied right in front of the goal.
The Chippewas will begin the season Sunday against Detroit at home. Kickoff is scheduled for 5 p.m.