Falcons fall to nationally-ranked Spartans, 3-1

EAST LANSING, Mich. – A pair of goals less than a minute apart gave nationally-ranked Michigan State University an early lead, and the Spartans went on to a 3-1 win over the Bowling Green State University women’s soccer team on Sunday afternoon.

The match, the Falcons’ season opener, was held at DeMartin Stadium.

Justina Gaynor and Kelly Severini scored first-half goals, while Zivana Labovic netted a second-half tally for the Spartans (2-0), who are 17th in the nation in the United Soccer Coaches top-25 poll and 19th in the Top Drawer Soccer rankings.

For the Falcons, freshman Lizzie Bultynck scored her first collegiate goal in her first match as a Falcon.

Madison Vukas made her first collegiate start in goal, splitting time with Lili Berg between the posts. Vukas had one save in the first half, while Berg made six second-half stops.

Eighty-one minuets in, the Falcons got on the scoreboard. After Jayna Searles was fouled by a Spartan defender, Isabelle Gillmore played a free kick into the box, where a host of players from both teams converged near the far post.

The ball deflected back toward the right side of the six-yard box, and Bultynck was there to knock it into the vacated goal.

Madison Vukas made her BGSU debut as well as her first collegiate start. Vukas, a transfer from Pittsburgh, came off the bench to play in a pair of matches for the Panthers in 2021. In addition to Vukas, Emilie Gardner (Anthony Wayne) made her first collegiate start on Sunday.

No fewer than six players had made their collegiate debuts before the halftime whistle. Making their respective BGSU debuts, in order, were Christine Erdman, Lizzie Bultynck, Audrey Oliver, Emma Stransky, Emme Butera and Sammie King.

BGSU played the final nine minutes of the first half with six freshmen on the pitch.

MSU had advantages of 18-4 in total shot attempts, 10-3 in shots on goal and 7-1 in corner kicks.

Despite the loss on Sunday, BGSU has an overall record of 67-32-16 since the start of the 2017 season. And, since the beginning of the 2018 campaign, the Falcons are 54-25-15.

BGSU returns to the road, heading to the Queen City for a Thursday (Aug. 24) match at Cincinnati. That contest is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.

• Then, the Falcons will open the home portion of the 2023 schedule next Sunday (Aug. 27), taking on Loyola Chicago. That match begins at 1 p.m., and admission is free.