MSU falls in first Big Ten tournament game in ten years

Michigan

EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – The Big Ten women’s soccer tournament hasn’t been in East Lansing since 2002, and Michigan State hasn’t been in the 8-team tournament since 2011.

In Jeff Hosler’s first season as the Spartans’ head coach, all of that has changed.

Last season, MSU won just one game and was projected to finish 13th in the conference this season. Hosler was quick to silence the doubters and led the Spartans to ten wins this season, five in the Big Ten, and a fourth-place finish at the end of the regular season.

As a result, the Spartans were the fourth seed in the Big Ten tournament and hosted fifth seed Iowa for a chance to advance to the semifinals.

After a scoreless first half, thanks to saves from MSU redshirt junior goalkeeper Lauren Kozal, who is the Big Ten goalkeeper of the year, Iowa used the second half to get the advantage. Kozal finished with six saves in the game, but there was one shot that didn’t go her way.

Iowa’s Alyssa Walker had the momentum on a breakaway and scored the game-winning goal in the 68th minute. Thus resulting in a 1-0 loss for MSU.

“It’s tough to digest. It’s tough to process, but I really do think, with where they’ve been and where we’ve come, I think there will be a lot more optimistic reflections being made,” Hosler said. “As we reflect back on it, there’s a lot to be proud of. A lot of achievements, a lot of accomplishments, but most importantly I think we set a new standard for our women’s soccer program and I’m really excited to see where it’s going to go.”

Kozal said about the team buying into Hosler’s coaching, “A lot of change this season, but really just coming together as a group and putting a lot of trust into coach Hosler and his staff, and really grinding it out together. Super proud of this group for everything we’ve accomplished. Hard to realize it right now, but we really made big jumps this season”

The loss to Iowa hurts MSU’s chances of making the NCAA tournament and if Sunday was the Spartans’ final game of the season, Hosler will have a lot to hang his hat on in year one.

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