- Erin Kirkland/Daily
By Jake Lourim, Daily Sports Writer
Published October 20, 2013
There stood senior forward Nkem Ezurike, three feet in front of the goal she’s hit so many times, looking for another break. She finally caught one when the ball fell right on her foot.
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Ezurike cashed in and set Michigan’s all-time scoring record with 45 career goals, leading the Wolverines to a pair of weekend wins that kept them in contention for the Big Ten title.
Michigan rallied past Indiana on Friday, 1-0, and Purdue on Sunday, 3-1.
After weeks of developing a supporting cast around Ezurike, Michigan (6-1-1 Big Ten, 12-2-1 overall) went back to an offense that ran right through its star.
The senior finished with 18 shots in two games, and although just four were on goal, she hit the back of the net on three.
“It took us a little bit to get untracked, but I was pleased throughout the match that when we went to goal we were creating really good chances,” said Michigan coach Greg Ryan. “I’m always happy with three goals, but I wouldn’t have been surprised to see more goals today because we meant business.”
Purdue took the lead in the 24th minute on a long shot, putting the Wolverines in an early hole. Ezurike had an answer 11 minutes later — her record-tying goal came on a penalty kick.
The Wolverines allowed just three shots on goal and had little trouble holding the one-goal lead.
Michigan remained tied into the second half until Ezurike slammed home the rebound of sophomore forward Corinne Harris’s shot.
Senior midfielder Christina Ordonez tacked on an insurance goal in the 69th minute.
Purdue (3-5, 8-7-1) came in as the worst defensive team in the Big Ten, giving up 34 goals in 15 games. Michigan suffered its fourth straight scoreless first half.
“They do a good job of putting on pressure,” Ezurike said. “You have to take them one on one to get your chances. It’s just focusing to get your chances and take that step away from them to get that shot.”
With the exception of the one-goal deficit, Friday’s game looked similar to Sunday’s. Michigan struggled to put away its chances until Ezurike’s second-half breakthrough.
Harris passed a ball right down the middle to Ezurike in the box for the finish, and the Wolverines held on for the final 15 minutes.
“Indiana’s a good team — it’s going to be tough to get our chances against them,” Ezurike said. “I think we just kept playing our game, getting the ball wide and getting inside.”
As with many Big Ten teams, Indiana (4-4, 11-4-1) played physically with Ezurike, drawing some frustration from the forward and Ryan.
“It’s part of the game, I try not to let it frustrate me,” Ezurike said. “But it is what it is.”
Ezurike continues to play through the contact as opponents continue to try to stop her. She scored twice against Indiana last year in a 3-0 victory.
“We just tried to stay compact and not let her turn, make sure we stayed an arm’s length away,” said Indiana coach Amy Berbary. “I thought we fought hard, I thought we tackled hard and that’s something we’ve been working hard to be better at.”
The quest for the record is over for Ezurike, but Ryan said it won’t make much of a difference.
“It wasn’t a distraction. I never cared,” Ryan said. “For me, these things just happen because a player’s a good player, and she continues to go hard. I knew she was going to get it, never thought about it twice.”