As overtime kicked off on Sunday in East Lansing, Mich., the IU women’s soccer team was on the verge of coming out of the weekend without any points in the Big Ten standings.
The Hoosiers (11-4-1, 4-4) had already lost 1-0 against Michigan on Friday night in Ann Arbor, Mich., and a late Michigan State goal forced an overtime period where one final goal would decide the game.
For the second time this season, freshman midfielder Veronica Ellis would emerge as the hero late in the game when she scored her second game-winning goal of the year to give IU a 3-2 overtime win against Michigan State.
With only two minutes remaining in the first overtime period, Ellis played a give-and-go pass to senior forward Rebecca Candler.
Candler found space and returned a cross to Ellis, who then sent the ball to the back of the nylon.
”Anything I can do to help the team is awesome,” Ellis said. “Everybody played great to keep us in the game and send it to overtime. I knew that I had to put the game away.”
IU Coach Amy Berbary said Ellis sent her touch on the ball to the back of the net with the confidence of an upperclassman despite seeing limited minutes off the bench.
“(Ellis) has time and time again stepped into the game for us and played like an upperclassman,” Berbary said. “Her composure in the box on that last goal, to take that touch and to beat the goalkeeper, is something you really can’t teach.”
The goal put away a Spartan team that had found a way to claw themselves back after falling behind twice in the game.
After senior midfielder Lisa Nouanesengsy gave the Hoosiers the lead in the 35th minute, the Spartans took the next possession and scored within 20 seconds to tie the game again.
Sophomore forward Kayleigh Steigerwalt regained the lead for the Hoosiers in the 49th minute, but once again the Spartans matched that goal in the 82nd minute to force overtime, where Ellis put Michigan State away with the game-winning goal.
The win gave IU three much needed points in conference after losing to Michigan 1-0 on Friday.
IU held the No. 12 Wolverines close throughout the entire game until the 75th minute, when freshman defender Marissa Borschke was forced to the ground, allowing Michigan forward Nkem Ezurike to get free and score what would prove to be the winning goal.
“We couldn’t find that one goal, and they got through on us just one time and that was enough,” Ellis said.
Despite the loss, Berbary said she was pleased with the way her team played against the talented Wolverines.
“We played for a full 90 minutes,” Berbary said. “It wasn’t like we sat back. We had plenty of chances to get the ball in the back of the net, but Michigan is by far one of the best teams we’ve seen so far.”
After the weekend split, the Hoosiers remain above the cut off for the Big Ten Tournament with only three games left.
“We are still in the mix,” Berbary said. “We talked and said look, if we take out the winning and we just try to do everything individually a little bit better and focus on the things we have to do to be successful, the wins will come. I think we took that in.”
Follow reporter Sam Beishuizen on Twitter @Sam_Beishuizen.