In its second overtime period against Northwestern on Friday night, the Michigan field hockey team knew it was playing on the edge. One goal either way would end the game.
Fortunately for the 11th-ranked Wolverines, the final goal came off the stick of senior defender Lauren Thomas on a penalty corner shot from the top of the circle, winning the game, 4-3.
“Honestly at first I was so tired, I was just happy that it was over,” Thomas said. “It’s always a good feeling knowing that you’ve kind of done that for the team, and everyone had worked so hard for the whole game that it felt really good to be able to top it off.”
The game began in almost the exact opposite way for Michigan (5-1 Big Ten, 13-3 overall), as the Wildcats scored their own penalty corner just over a minute into the game.
The Wolverines answered, however, as sophomore midfielders Katie Trombetta and Veerle Lubbers scored back-to-back goals within 30 seconds of one another to give Michigan the 2-1 lead.
Northwestern (3-3, 10-6) opened the second half with its own pair of consecutive goals to reclaim the lead.
Down 3-2 with less than five minutes remaining, the Wolverines needed someone to step up if they had any hope of defeating the Wildcats on the road.
Senior forward Shannon Scavelli was there when her team needed her, and slotted one past Northwestern goalkeeper Lindsay von der Luft to knot the game at three.
The Wolverines’ defense, led by strong play from sophomore goalkeeper Sam Swenson, held off late pressure from Northwestern to send the game to overtime.
In the first overtime period, the teams battled back and forth to try to gain an advantage. With time expiring, the Wildcats won a penalty corner and a chance to close out the game. Swenson was at the top of her game yet again, making one of her career-best 14 saves. Eight of Swenson’s saves came after regulation — an effort that sent the game to a second overtime period, when Thomas scored her eventual game-winner.
“You really have to focus on not letting your nerves get to you, and just (try to) organize your team,” Swenson said. “I try and get rid of my nerves by talking to the team, getting everyone in the right place and getting everyone set for their best scenarios. You just have to really focus on the game and not even think about the possibility of what could happen.”
After its overtime thriller, Michigan traveled to Central Michigan to take on the Chippewas. Unlike their battle with Northwestern, the Wolverines had no trouble this time on their way to a 4-0 victory Sunday.
Redshirt sophomore forward Carly Bennett opened the scoring for Michigan with her first goal of the season, and fellow redshirt sophomore Allie Sardo and Thomas each added goals to make it a 3-0 halftime lead.
“Today we definitely couldn’t underestimate them,” Thomas said. “It was important for us to get the goals that we did get early on, and although I’m a defensive player, being on the penalty corner attack there are huge chances for us to get the goals and win the game, so to be a part of that is really big.”
The Wolverine defense completely shut down Central Michigan, not allowing the Chippewas to take a shot in the first half.
Trombetta scored her second goal of the weekend to put a cap on a successful weekend for Michigan.
“It’s not an easy thing to come off a big double-overtime win and then have to drive two and a half hours on the same day you are going to play,” said Michigan coach Marcia Pankratz. “I was proud of the team for staying focused. … It’s a big win.”
Though the Wolverines come away from the weekend with two important victories, there is no time to relax, as they face off against rivals Michigan State and Ohio State in the final two weeks of the season.