Playing scared gets you nowhere: Women’s soccer falls to Michigan State 0-5

By: Parker Perry

Entering halftime, the score was 1-0 in favor of the Michigan State Spartans. The Spartans had a total of nine shots, five of them on goal in the first half.

Akron goalkeeper Jenny Wolbert was forced to save many different varieties of attempts. Diving to her left then her right, she was able to keep Michigan State off the board until forward Olivia Stander received an opportunity from 18 yards out. She put it in the upper right corner to give her team the lead in the 70th minute. The two teams would play even through the rest of the half.

“We never got our feet under us,” Wolbert said afterward.

The slow start rolled over to the second half. Though Akron got the first shot off, Stander got her second goal. Laura Heyboer was able to dribble around a couple Zips defenders and force a through ball that found the feet of Stander. Stander went to her right, got around a charging Wolbert and fired a shot into the net. With the score 0-2, Zips’ Head Coach Chris Pfau thought his team started playing scared.

“We were playing scared,” Pfau admitted. “I thought we where ready to play at this level, but mentally we are not there.”

Stander completed a hat trick in the 79th minute. It was also the Spartans’ third goal of the match overall. With the game all but out of reach for the Zips, Michigan State started pouring it on. Thirty seconds after the third goal came the fourth, this time off the foot of Heyboer. Soon after, the fifth came their way with a Kori Reinhart shot that went into the left corner of the net.

Though the outcome was not a favorable one for him, Pfau is still very upbeat about the talent his team has.

“It wasn’t a lack of skill,” Pfau said.

Earlier in the year, Pfau claimed that his team’s talent level was great and said that his team includes girls that could have gone anywhere in the country. And by his reaction to Sunday’s game it appears that he is sticking by it. Pfau is more concerned about the mental aspect of his team and hopes they can take control of that shortcoming. His keeper seems to think the same way.

“We need to learn how to mentally prepare ourselves for an entire week,” Wolbert said.

The Zips will get another chance to prepare through a week, as their next contest will take place in Florida on Friday. The Zips will compete in the South Florida Tournament and will play South Florida (3-2) first and Florida Atlantic (3-1) on Saturday.