By Alejandro Zuniga, Daily Sports Writer
Published September 9, 2012
ROCHESTER, Mich. — Sophomore midfielder Christina Murillo’s first career goal highlighted a first-half onslaught by the Michigan women's soccer team, and the Wolverines relied on solid defense down the stretch to defeat Oakland, 1-0, Sunday afternoon.
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Michigan tested the Golden Grizzlies’ back line early and often, and they were rewarded with Murillo’s fifth-minute goal. Standing near the edge of the 18-yard box, the sophomore received a crisp pass off of junior defender Shelina Zadorsky’s corner kick. Murillo took a touch, looked up and fired a sizzling shot past Oakland goalkeeper Shannon Coley.
“It was awesome to have finally scored a goal,” Murillo said. “It meant so much that we were able to win off of it.”
The victory was Michigan’s first win away from the U-M Soccer Complex this season.
Despite numerous promising opportunities for both sides, Murillo’s goal proved to be the winner for the Wolverines, who improved their record to 6-2. Murillo almost scored again in the second half, but Coley managed to deflect the wicked header over the bar.
Michigan coach Greg Ryan recognized Murillo’s talent even as a freshman, starting her in every game of the 2011 campaign in which she was named to the Big Ten All-Freshmen team. Now that she has returned from representing Mexico in the under-20 women’s World Cup in Japan, Ryan said he was awed by the young star.
“She’s going to get a lot more goals,” Ryan said. “Honestly, I don’t see many college players playing the way she is right now. She’s not playing like a college student. She’s playing like a pro.”
The Wolverines dominated the Golden Grizzlies in the first 45 minutes of play. They peppered Oakland's goalkeeper, outshooting the opposition 13-1, and took four corner kicks. Coley rejected shot after shot, but couldn’t prevent Murillo’s effort from reaching the back of the net.
After 90 minutes, Michigan had taken 17 shots and nine corner kicks.
Oakland didn't test Michigan senior goalkeeper Haley Kopmeyer until the second half. When the Golden Grizzlies did get through to her, the program’s all-time saves leader came up big. In the 82nd minute, a long cross into the box was one-timed out of the air by Oakland midfielder Nicole DeLuca. Diving toward the far post, Kopmeyer corralled the short-range shot without allowing a rebound.
Five minutes later, DeLuca’s beautiful 25-yard strike almost found the upper-90, but the rising shot sailed inches over the crossbar.
The Wolverines’ 1-0 victory marks their fifth shutout of the season and second in as many games. Through its entire eight-game non-conference slate, Michigan allowed just four goals. Zadorsky, one of the Wolverines’ defensive leaders, praised the back line’s effort.
“We worked hard as a unit, with a lot of communication,” Zadorsky said. “We executed pretty well.”
Ryan praised Michigan’s defense as the deciding factor in such a close game.
“The defense held us together today,” he said. “The team defense was great.”
The Wolverines will look to remain undefeated at home when they open their Big Ten conference schedule against Indiana on Saturday.