Spartans Opening Weekend Wrap-up
Michigan State made its debut for 2017 with three games in four days over the weekend. The Spartans hosted No. 23 Minnesota, Indiana and No. 20 Liberty taking wins in all three. After graduating 8 seniors in 2016, this is a promising start for MSU.
The Spartans trailed early in every game this weekend. Minnesota and Liberty both took a 2-0 lead going into the second quarter. However, a balanced unit of attackmen brought MSU back in each contest.
Freshman Bennett Osterink, sophomore Charlie Pistner and junior Brett Braun combined for 25 of MSU’s 34 goals. Leading the team in scoring against both the Gophers and the Flames, Osterink was especially happy following the first three games of his collegiate career.
“What was really working was backdoor cuts as well as keeping the game at a high tempo,” said Osterink. “It means so much to be able to come in and knock off two Top 25 ranked teams and know that I played a role in those games.”
The story of the weekend for the Spartans was their defense. Holding all three opponents to single-digit scoring and stopping a late run by Minnesota on Friday solidified MSU’s 3-0 record. Junior defenseman Patrick Donovan praised the defense’s work as a unit.
“Everyone was on the same page and we found our identity,” Donovan said. “We were winning our one-on-one matchups and K-Bo was making saves.”
In goal, junior Kevin Boland posted 31 saves with a save percentage of 62. In the final ten seconds on Friday, Boland stopped a Gopher shot from point blank to seal the win. He earned MCLA DI Under Armour Commanding Performance of the Week Honorable Mention for his efforts.
“I was seeing the ball very well and our communication on the defensive side of the field allowed us to limit scoring opportunities or the opposition,” Boland said. “Our d-mids and poles also did an excellent job of getting into open space for successful clears.”
Head coach Cam Holding called his goalie’s play “incredible.”
“Kevin made some saves that were very clutch,” Holding said. “When that happened our whole team got behind him and used those key saves as fuel to our fire.”
Holding added that the most important part of the weekend was MSU improved all over the field as a team. Even with the strong start, Holding said the Spartans need to keep learning and getting better.
“Although we are 3-0, we are staying hungry for our next opponent and will get to work this week making sure we are prepared for our next test this Saturday,” said Holding.
Pictures by Tricia Donovan.