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Women's soccer loses heartbreaker at Long Beach State

Teresa Mathew/Daily
Fifth-year senior keeper Haley Kopmeyer is now No. 1 on Michigan's all-time saves list. Buy this photo

By Alejandro Zuniga, For the Daily
Published September 2, 2012

Michigan led No. 11 Long Beach State 1-0 with about five minutes to play in Sunday's game, but the 49ers scored two goals after the 85th minute to steal the game from the Wolverines.

The Michigan women’s soccer team lost 2-1 at Long Beach State on Sunday night, spoiling the performance of goalie Haley Kopmeyer, as she moved into first place on Michigan's all-time save list. She made four saves and now has 323 throughout her career, surpassing Megan Tuura’s mark of 322. Michigan coach Greg Ryan had nothing but praise for the fifth-year senior.

“Haley’s been a rock for us, and tonight was no different,” Ryan said. “She really kept us in it.”

Kopmeyer’s performance, plus a strong effort from the Wolverine back line, couldn't contain the 49ers. In the 87th minute, Nadia Link buried a penalty kick for Long Beach State. Only three minutes later, in the final moments of the match, Kelsey Wilson curled in a free kick from 20 yards out. The senior’s goal was the last play of the game, and the supporters at George Allen Field erupted in celebration of the dramatic victory.

Though he said he was disappointed with the loss, Ryan commended his players.

“I was very proud of the team effort,” Ryan said. “We were very unfortunate not to win, but sometimes those things happen.”

The Michigan coach added that “six to eight” players had the stomach flu, and some of the team spent Saturday afternoon on IVs at nursing care centers.

“If you’re playing through the stomach flu, you’re a tough person,” Ryan said. “These kids fought through a lot of obstacles.”

Ryan did not specify which players were sick.

Long Beach State took 11 shots in the first half, but it was the Wolverines who scored the game’s first goal. In the 35th minute, forward Shelby Chambers-Garcia capitalized on a mistake by the 49ers' defense. The junior gained possession of the ball in Long Beach State’s penalty area, and cooly buried a shot from 12 yards out for her third goal of the season.

That lead would last until the 87th minute, when the 49ers’ heroics silenced Michigan’s upset bid.

After the Wolverines scored late in the first half, they relied heavily on their defense to preserve the lead, taking only one shot in the second 45 minutes. Though the 49ers controlled the tempo and the ball for most of the game, Michigan’s back line stepped into passing lanes and blocked shots, allowing Long Beach State few open looks at goal. The 49ers took 19 shots, but only four reached the Wolverines’ netminder.

The loss capped a disappointing road trip for Michigan, which fell to Cal State Northridge on Thursday night. The Wolverines began the season 4-0-0, their best start since 2002, but have now dropped two straight.

“Soccer can be a cruel sport,” Ryan said. “I think this game will make us a lot stronger and a lot tougher.”


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