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Michigan’s defense plays lights out at Minnesota

By Alejandro Zúñiga, Daily Sports Writer
Published September 21, 2012

Michigan women’s soccer team relied on stout defense to shut out yet another opponent and record a victory. On Friday night, the victim was Minnesota, which fell 1-0 to the Wolverines in one of the more bizarre soccer games in recent memory.

With 20 minutes remaining in a tense 1-0 contest, the lights at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium in Minneapolis shut down completely, throwing the pitch into total darkness. The match was suspended for about 15 minutes before power was finally restored to the stadium. Play then resumed normally, and the Wolverines (2-0 Big Ten, 8-2 overall) held on to win their fourth straight game.

The only goal of Friday’s contest came courtesy of Nkem Ezurike in the 31st minute. When Golden Gophers goalkeeper Cat Parkhill received a routine pass from one of her defenders, Ezurike challenged the netminder. Unable to touch the ball with her hands, Parkhill was easily overpowered by Ezurike. The forward gained possession and cleanly poked the ball into the open net for her third goal of the season.

Thanks to the Wolverines’ defense, Ezurike’s tally was all Michigan needed to escape with a victory. The unit entered Friday’s contest leading the Big Ten in goals against average and shutouts, and reasserted its dominance by recording its fourth-straight shutout and seventh of the season. The Wolverines have not surrendered a goal in over 360 minutes of play.

Fifth-year senior netminder Haley Kopmeyer stopped all three Golden Gopher attempts on goal with a little help from the post, which rejected a Minnesota shot in the 74th minute.

The Wolverines’ midfield and offense controlled the Golden Gophers in the first half, creating plenty of goal-scoring opportunities. In the 20th minute, fifth-year senior forward Clare Stachel rattled the crossbar with a brilliant effort off of a free kick. A minute later, sophomoremidfielder Christina Murillo sent a shot just wide of goal. But no one converted until Ezurike capitalized on the Gophers’ mistake later in the half.

Michigan will now travel to Madison to face No. 14 Wisconsin on Sunday afternoon.


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