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Nine-game unbeaten streak has Wolverines on pace for historic season

Patrick Barron/Daily
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By Dylan McKenzie, Daily Sports Writer
Published October 10, 2012

On Sept. 2, the Michigan women’s soccer team looked on with disgust as Long Beach State sank a last-minute goal to beat the Wolverines. More than a month later, that game is still the last time they’ve lost.

Michigan has gone unbeaten over the last month and a half of play, posting a record of 8-0-1. In doing so, the Wolverines have picked their competition apart by outscoring opponents 18-2 over that span.

Under the leadership of fifth-year senior goalkeeper Haley Kopmeyer, the defense has been impenetrable, allowing only 0.4 goals per game. With junior forward Nkem Ezurike up front, the offense has been electric, with 27 goals for the season.

The wins keep piling up, and the Wolverines have a record of 12-2-1 with five guaranteed games left to play. Assuming a postseason berth, this gives them a legitimate chance to surpass the program record of 18 wins set by the 1997 team that finished 18-4-1.

“In my five years here this is by far the best team I’ve been a part of,” Kopmeyer said.

Despite the torrid pace, Michigan is focused on taking care of business in the Big Ten. It is likely, though, that at their current pace, they would be a shoo-in for a bid in the 64-team NCAA Tournament.

“(The tournament) is totally a long ways away,” said Michigan coach Greg Ryan. “I’m not looking ahead to the postseason at all.”

Added Kopmeyer: “We just want to keep going, one game at a time.”

Under Ryan’s tutelage, the Wolverines have struggled at times during his five-year tenure, but they finally appear to be putting it all together. The improvements took longer than Ryan wanted, but the team slowly improved each year and now appear to have the look and attitude of an elite program.

The secret of their success may lie in the fact that many of their top players have been plucked from prime soccer hotspots throughout North America such as Southern California and Canada.

“It all starts with the recruiting process,” Ryan said.

Ryan did have a caveat to add to that.

“You can have talent without chemistry and you don’t normally do very well,” he said. “You can tell from just watching these kids that the chemistry between them is just fantastic and that has made the turnaround much (easier).”

As the players have grown and matured under Ryan, Michigan has gone from a middle-of-the-road Big Ten team to challenging for the title. While Penn State is still ahead of them in the standings, the Wolverines look unbeatable these days.

Regardless of what happens in the postseason or the Big Ten Championships, Michigan has had a season to remember. If the Wolverines continue playing like they have, there’s no telling when their unbeaten streak will end.