August 17, 2012 - 8:30pm
BY MICHAEL LAURILA
The Michigan women’s soccer team opened its 2012 campaign against Fordham on Friday night with some noticeably missing faces.
Junior forward Nkem Ezurike, junior defenseman Shelina Zadorsky and sophomore midfielder Christina Murillo were all absent from the Wolverines’ lineup, as they’re currently competing in the Under-20 World Cup in Japan. Fifth-year senior Clare Stachel also didn’t play due to an injury. All four missing players were everyday starters for Michigan last season.
That didn’t stop the Wolverines from cruising to a 5-0 victory over the Rams, though.
Boasting 18 underclassmen on a roster of 29 players, head coach Greg Ryan gave four freshmen the nod to start.
Whether it was the youthful roster or early season jitters, it took the Wolverines 17 minutes to find the back of the net on a junior midfielder Meghan Toohey goal. But two minutes later, after a cross and a deflection, the ball dropped right in front of junior midfielder Tori McCombs at the top of the box, who put it in the right corner for an unassisted goal and a 2-0 Michigan lead.
The Wolverines held that lead for the remainder of the first half, in part due to several acrobatic saves by fifth-year senior goalie Hayley Kopmeyer.
Opening the second half, a first-minute unassisted goal by redshirt junior defensemen Holly Hein kept the floodgates open.
In the 28th minute, junior forward Shelby Chambers-Garcia received a pass through the middle and with Fordham goalie Rachel Suther charging, she hit the perfect spot in the corner for a goal. Chambers-Garcia wasn’t finished though, adding another goal two minutes later to make the score 5-0.
The Wolverines dominated the possession with ease for the entirety of the second half and most of the later part of the first half. Even without the presence of four returning starters, the offense and defense clicked with the familiarity of an experienced unit.
The big lead late in the game allowed Ryan to make subs he normally wouldn’t do, giving some of the younger players useful experience.
Michigan’s non-conference schedule continues on Sunday with a game against Pittsburgh. The Panthers should pose a little bit more of a test than the Rams did, especially without the presence of Ezurike, Zadorsky and Murillo, who will still be in Japan.