No. 6 Spartans Become Ninth Undefeated B1G Women’s Soccer Champion, Down No. 14 Rutgers

They’ll host Minnesota in the B1G Tournament Sunday
Published: Oct. 23, 2022 at 9:53 PM EDT
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EAST LANSING, Mich. (MSU Athletics) - No. 6 Michigan State women’s soccer completed its undefeated run through the Big Ten Conference regular season on Sunday afternoon, as the Spartans downed the No. 14 Rutgers Scarlet Knights by a 1-0 margin on a brilliant goal by senior forward Lauren DeBeau at the north end of DeMartin Stadium.

In the history of Big Ten women’s soccer dating back to the league’s inaugural season in 1994, the Green & White become only the ninth undefeated league victor in history. Michigan State became the league’s champion earlier in the week on Thursday, Oct. 20, when the Spartans defeated No. 17 Ohio State in a 1-0 game on the road in Columbus. MSU improves upon its program record for ranked wins in a single season, as the Spartans rise to 5-1 in nationally ranked games after defeating the No. 14 Scarlet Knights.

Michigan State closes the book on its greatest regular season campaign in program history, concluding the year with a 14-1-3 overall record. MSU needs only one more victory to match the single-season school record of 15 set by the inaugural 1986 squad. The Green & White rise to 9-0-1 in the Big Ten, and will host a B1G Tournament Quarterfinal at DeMartin Stadium on Sunday, Oct. 30, as the top overall seed. Michigan State will welcome the eighth-seeded Minnesota Golden Gophers at a time to be announced.

A stingy defensive affair, Michigan State narrowly beat Rutgers out on the shot chart by an 11-8 margin, with both squads putting up three shots on goal apiece. Pressure on the back line resulted in five corner kick attempts for both the Spartans and Scarlet Knights, with neither team capitalizing on their set piece opportunities. DeBeau’s dead-eye goal in the 86th minute was the only individual offensive statistic of the game. The senior from Shelby Township, Michigan, moved into a tie for first place in the Big Ten Conference with 10 goals scored in 2022.

Senior goalkeeper Lauren Kozal made history of her own on Sunday afternoon, matching the program’s single season wins record for a goalie with 14 victories on the year. The record was set by Spartan legend Renee Richert in 1986, finishing the season with a 14-4-2 individual record. Kozal, who is now tied for third at MSU with 10 shutouts in a single season, made three saves in Sunday’s game. For Rutgers, graduate goalkeeper Meagan McClelland notched a pair of saves and allowed the game’s only goal in her losing decision.

Rutgers took the opening kick, but the ensuing 15 minutes saw the Spartans dominate the early battle for the ball. Evans tallied the first shot of the game on a nice feed from Sargeant in the seventh minute, but the attempt struck a Scarlet Knight defender. Each team exchanged offensive opportunities through the middle portion of the period, but the score remained level at nil well into the half. The Spartan back line was tested on a set piece following a Raegan Cox yellow card, but the Green & White remained steadfast through the 29th.

Less than a minute later, Rutgers junior midfielder Sara Brocious was called for a yellow of her own on a foul around midfield. The game tightened up a bit, with both teams surrendering fouls, but neither squad was able to generate any significant scoring chances. Two more yellow cards were issued before the break, one to each team, and a chippy first period came to a scoreless end.

Close calls and near-misses for the Green & White punctuated the early moments of the second half. Evans nearly struck gold yet again in the Rutgers final third, as her breakaway chance and right-footed effort zipped just wide of the right post. By the 59th minute, Rutgers and Michigan State had each logged only shot apiece, with Scarlet Knight forward Riley Tiernan attempting an arcing shot that was collected by Kozal.

A flurry of corner kicks rained down as the final 45 wore on, with the Scarlet Knights collecting four attempts compared to MSU’s three with about 10 minutes remaining in the game. At one point, Rutgers earned a trio of corners in a two-minute span, with all three attempts successfully cleared by the Spartan defense. As the game continued to wear on, neither team was able to generate any separation on the offensive side of the ball.

Then, in the early moments of the 86th minute, DeBeau cemented the 2022 Spartans’ place in history. MSU’s attack materialized around the center circle, when sophomore forward Jordyn Wickes spun off a defender and generated enough space to get a pass off to DeBeau. Utilizing expert footwork, DeBeau worked herself into enough of a clearing to attempt a shot over a trio of Scarlet Knights. From 25 yards out, she paused, wound up and launched an unbelievable high-arching shot into the top right corner of the north goal. With the 1-0 lead in hand, the Spartans held Rutgers’ final advance at bay and completed their undefeated B1G effort.

The Spartans play host to the eighth-seeded Minnesota Golden Gophers in their Big Ten Tournament quarterfinal matchup from DeMartin Stadium on Sunday, Oct. 30. Kick time between MSU and Minnesota is set for 4 p.m.

The Big Ten Conference announced the full tournament field and bracket for the 2022 Big Ten Women’s Soccer Tournament on Sunday night, with quarterfinal games hosted on campus sites and both the semifinals and finals hosted at Lower.com Field in Columbus, Ohio, the home of Major League Soccer’s Columbus Crew.

All quarterfinal games are set for Sunday, Oct. 30, with semifinals scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 3, at 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. The league’s championship game is scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 6, at 2 p.m. Michigan State’s matchup against Minnesota, as well as the semifinals and finals of the tournament will be broadcast to a national television audience via Big Ten Network and streamed through the Fox Sports App.

Michigan State is the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten Tournament for the second time in program history, having previously earned that spot in 1994 after finishing with the conference’s best regular season record (from 1994-96, the Big Ten women’s soccer title was awarded to the winner of the tournament, rather than the highest finisher in the regular season).

Michigan State, which is seeking its first Big Ten Tournament title, will be facing a Minnesota side that has won three Big Ten Tournament championships in program history, most recently in 2018. Michigan State and Minnesota did not face one another during the 2022 regular season, with their most recent meeting coming on Sept. 26, 2021 (won by MSU, 2-1, at DeMartin Stadium).

This year’s Big Ten Tournament champion will earn the conference’s automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.

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