To most teams, two weekends of road games against ranked opponents would inspire feelings of dread. But not the 10th-ranked Michigan field hockey team.
The Wolverines (3-1) defeated No. 12 Stanford, 2-1, Friday and California-Berkeley, 5-0, Sunday. Michigan’s victories came following a 1-0 road victory over then-No. 1 UNC, 1-0, and a 2-0 loss to then-No. 7 Wake Forest last weekend.
“I’m really proud of the team for playing a full 70 minutes,” said Michigan coach Marcia Pankratz.
Sophomore forward Emma Way kicked off the scoring for the Wolverines against the Cardinal when she netted a goal at 23:57, while senior forward Courtney Enge extended Michigan’s lead to two 14 minutes later. The Wolverines kept Stanford off the board in the first half.
But the Cardinal did not go down without a fight.
Stanford took advantage of a penalty corner in the 51st minute to get the ball past junior goaltender Sam Swenson to cut Michigan’s edge in half.
The Cardinal then appeared poised to tie the game when the Wolverines were given a green card with 3:41 left. But Swenson and her teammates successfully ran out the clock and ensured the victory for Michigan. Swenson finished Friday with four saves in total.
“I think we’ve worked together really well,” Swenson said of her teammates. “We’ve upped our communication so that everyone is on the same page. That’s really helped us all the way through the team.”
Pankratz gave special praise to Swenson, though.
“Swenson is an amazing goalkeeper,” Pankratz said. “She’s quick, she’s experienced and the defense in front of her is really confident because of her.”
Against the Golden Bears, redshirt junior forward Carly Bennett drew first blood when she scored at 28:08. The rest of the first half featured very little offense as the teams combined for just three shots on goal.
The Wolverines would change that in a big way in the second half.
Senior forward Sina Lampe made a shot off a penalty corner towards Enge, who put the ball in the net in the 55th minute. Bennett added another goal two minutes later to extend the lead to three.
Freshman forward Bree Bednarski scored her first career goal 1:36 later and Enge topped things off by notching her third goal of the weekend as time expired.
“I think we all got extra hungry and extra ready for the second half,” Enge said. “We just penetrated the circle and the goals fell.”
Michigan will be rewarded for its early success by finally getting to play at home against Villanova on Sept. 10, something Pankratz and the Wolverines are looking forward to.
“We’ve been on the road a long time and it gets tiring,” Pankratz said. “Our players have worked really hard, and classes start (this week).”
The Wolverines will have to face No. 6 Maryland and No. 12 Louisville before 2016 is out. But after the past two weekends, Michigan likely won’t be walking into those matchups feeling dread.