Wickes’ Brace Powers No. 6 Spartans Past Minnesota in B1G Quarterfinals

The Spartans advance to the Big Ten Tournament semifinals for only the fifth time
Published: Oct. 30, 2022 at 10:14 PM EDT
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EAST LANSING, Mich. (MSU Athletics) - Sixth-ranked and top-seeded Michigan State women’s soccer went down by a goal less than five minutes into the game, but responded with a pair of goals from sophomore forward Jordyn Wickes to notch a come-from-behind 2-1 win over the eighth-seeded Minnesota Golden Gophers in the quarterfinals of the 2022 Big Ten Tournament at DeMartin Stadium on Sunday.

The Spartans advance to the Big Ten Tournament semifinals for only the fifth time in program history and the first since 2011. MSU advanced on penalty kicks by a 4-3 edge over sixth-seeded Iowa in the 2011 tournament to advance before falling in a 1-0 affair against second-seed Illinois.

Michigan State climbs to 15-1-3 overall in the 2022 season, tying the single-season program win record set by MSU’s inaugural team in 1986. The Green & White remain undefeated against Big Ten Conference opponents, improving upon their 9-0-1 regular season record with a quarterfinal win over cross-division rival Minnesota. The Golden Gophers conclude their season with an 8-8-3 ledger coupled with a 4-4-2 B1G regular season effort. Minnesota was undefeated in their last five contests before dropping Sunday’s game in East Lansing.

MSU built an 11-9 edge in total shot attempts and matched the Golden Gophers in shots on goal 3-3. Against one of the best set-piece teams in the Big Ten, Michigan State yielded only five Minnesota corner kicks and took seven of their own. Individually, Wickes led the way with a pair of goals on three total shots, while graduate midfielder Celia Gaynor, senior defender Ruby Diodati and junior midfielder Zivana Labovic each recorded one assist apiece.

Between the pipes, senior keeper Lauren Kozal played all 90 minutes of the game, yielding one Golden Gopher score and recording three saves in the contest. Kozal set a new program record for single-season goalkeeper wins with 15, breaking a tie with 1986 netminder Renee Richert to assume the top spot on the leaderboard. For Minnesota, Megan Plaschko allowed two goals and booked a pair of saves in the losing decision.

The Golden Gophers came out of the gate firing on all cylinders, putting up a pair of shots on goal as well as the opening score in the fifth minute. Junior midfielder Sophia Boman worked the ball up the right side of the field and sent a pass off to graduate midfielder McKenna Buisman. After taking a few dribbles, Buisman battled into a clearing and sent a booming 20-yarder into the back right corner of the goal for the icebreaker.

MSU regained its footing in the ensuing minutes and found extended time in Minnesota’s half of the field. The Spartans applied pressure to the Golden Gopher back line and recorded a corner kick attempt in the process, but the Green & White failed to take advantage. Two minutes later, Celia Gaynor battled her way into a clearing just inside the 18 and put up a well-booted attempt, but the shot sailed wide right. Despite repeated scoring opportunities as the first half waned, nothing materialized, and Minnesota rode its early score to a 1-0 halftime lead.

Following the brief intermission, Michigan State’s found newfound fervor and dialed up crucial set-piece possessions to net a pair of goals. The Spartans applied consistent pressure to the back line of Minnesota’s defense, earning a corner kick opportunity less than six minutes into the second stanza. Although the Spartans couldn’t book the equalizer in that moment, MSU’s continued effort and high-intensity offense forced another corner kick less than five minutes later.

Per usual, Diodati marched into the far northeast corner of DeMartin Stadium and lined up to take a crucial attempt. Her service sailed far-post just outside the goal box, where Labovic collected the ball and moved it just outside the mouth of the net. Wickes took a right-place, right-time, right-footed shot into the bottom right corner of the net for the equalizing score. With the game tied, the Green & White needed their offensive prowess to shine through in order to advance.

MSU garnered another corner kick less than three minutes later, and the Spartans remained knocking on the doorstep of a semifinal berth with 25 minutes to play. In the waning seconds of the 67th minute, Celia Gaynor sent a pinpoint feed to the far edge of the penalty area to Wickes. The sophomore standout sidestepped to the right and sent a banger into the back left portion of the net for her fourth game-winning goal of the season. With the lead in hand, Michigan State buckled down defensively and finalized the 2-1 result to advance.

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