Lincoln - The Nebraska soccer team opened Big Ten action with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over previously unbeaten Michigan State at a rainy Nebraska Soccer Field on Thursday. Freshman Jaycie Johnson's sixth goal of the year and second-straight game-winner was all the NU defense would need as the Huskers earned its third shutout of the season.
Ominous skies surrounded the pitch as both teams started off the match under less than ideal conditions. The contest was then halted in the second minute of action when threatening weather entered the area, forcing a 35-minute delay.
Just 11:17 into the match, Johnson notched the eventual game-winning goal with the help of senior Jordan Jackson on a give-and-go opportunity to give the Huskers (5-2-1, 1-0-0 B1G) the 1-0 lead. Jackson connected with Johnson, who finished with four shot attempts, at the 18-yard mark as the freshman drove in to beat the diving MSU (6-1-2, 0-1-0 B1G) keeper to the left from 12 yards out. Johnson's sixth goal of the year ties her for the Big Ten freshman lead with Purdue's Maddy Williams.
The other big chance for Nebraska came in the 33rd minute when Johnson had an opportunity sail wide to the right as the Huskers entered halftime with a 1-0 edge. The NU defense limited the MSU scoring chances in the first half and outshot the Spartans by a 6-3 margin, including 2-1 shots on goal.
In second-half play, junior Mayme Conroy earned a great opportunity in the box in an attempt to add to the NU lead but the Michigan State defender prevented Conroy from putting the shot on net.
Senior Stacy Bartels, who recorded a team-high three shots on frame coming off the bench, saw a wonderful chance in the 71st minute, but had her shot tipped away as the Spartan goalkeeper Courtney Clem kept the deficit at 1-0 favor Nebraska.
The Huskers' goalkeeper, senior Emma Stevens, denied the Spartans throughout the match en route to making three saves in the shutout. Stevens came up with big saves in the 52nd and 62nd minutes of play, as she tipped the final shot on goal just over the crossbar to preserve the shutout. Michigan State had its final chance with six minutes to play sail just high as the Huskers picked up its third-straight victory and move to 1-0 to start conference play.
The Nebraska defensive unit kept the Spartans in check for much of the contest, as MSU managed just six shots attempts with three coming on net. The Huskers controlled the shots category 13-6, with six NU players posting attempts as Nebraska improves to 17-1 all-time in conference openers..
NU returns to action at home for its final non-conference match of the year against No. 14 Denver Sunday at 1 p.m. The game is the Pepsi Pack the House contest where fans will receive $1.00 general admission as well as $1.00 Pepsi, Mountain Dew, and Diet Pepsi.