- Tracy Ko/Daily
By Shannon Lynch, For the Daily
Published October 21, 2012
The No. 15 Michigan field hockey team has just one senior, but that didn’t mean it was going to take Senior Day lightly. The Wolverines instead dominated in their final home game of the 2012 season, shutting out Miami (Ohio), 3-0.
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It was a fitting conclusion to a unique home slate in Ann Arbor and a testament to the importance of team chemistry and leadership on and off the field.
Riding the momentum of their thrilling 4-3 victory over Indiana on Friday, the Wolverines came out strong. Michigan coach Marcia Pankratz said her team was eager to battle Miami and extend its three-game winning streak.
“It’s not easy to go on the road, come home at two in the morning, do all the stuff with recruits on Saturday, and then turn around and play a game Sunday,” she said. “It’s easy to get distracted, especially with a young team, but they were spot on, and I’m really proud of them.”
Michigan was quick to find, and keep possession, of the ball for the majority of the first half, outshooting Miami by a huge 16-2 margin. The team, though, struggled to capitalize against Miami goalkeeper Sarah Mueller.
“Their goalie had a really good game,” said junior forward Rachael Mack. “She’s solid, and she came up really big for them, so it wasn’t necessarily the first shot we got the goal off, and we had to try for the rebound.”
Miami’s defense could only hold off the Wolverines for so long. Capitalizing on a corner in the 26th minute, Mack got the ball to redshirt sophomore Leslie Smith, who snuck it behind Meuller to give Michigan the lead.
The RedHawks were unable to answer before halftime, and Michigan went into the locker room feeling confident but not content.
“We had to make some adjustments tactically,” Pankratz said. “We were struggling breaking the ball out of the fence, and with the adjustments we were able to get going after half.”
The Wolverines came out looking stronger than ever at the start of the second half, and it was obvious that though the team is young — there are 11 freshmen on the roster — both the veteran players and newest members share a sense of composure and trust each other to get the job done.
Michigan did exactly what it had talked about in the locker room, adding to its lead in the first 10 minutes of the second half.
Mack, who has been the top scorer this season, blasted the ball through Mueller’s legs, extending the lead to 2-0 in the 44th minute. She struck again in the 60th minute, rebounding off a corner slotting the ball right over Mueller’s head.
The lead became more precarious for the Wolverines in the last 10 minutes of play, as Miami pulled five corners in a row, giving the RedHawks ample opportunities in front of the goal. But they were unable to find the back of the net and compete with the aggressiveness of the Michigan defense.
Throughout the game, Michigan was able to move up the field in a series of well-played short passes and fakes. The polished style of play was a significant factor in securing the win.
The Wolverines lone senior, Liesl Morris, was very pleased with the way that the team was able to come together and produce a successful home record this season — Michigan finished 9-1 in Ann Arbor for the year.
“When I look back, we only have one loss at home and that’s awesome,” Morris said. “To be able to defend your home turf that well, and as such a young team, it’s really good and I’m very proud of our team for being tenacious this whole game and this whole season.”