The No. 11 Michigan field hockey team experienced its first snag of the year, losing 2-1 to No. 4 Connecticut on Sunday in Ann Arbor after opening the season with three consecutive wins over ranked opponents.
The contest was locked in an offensive stalemate for much of the game, with both teams remaining scoreless well into the second half.
“I think (Connecticut) had a really good one-on-one defense. They were very stingy coming into the circle, which gave us some trouble,” said Michigan coach Marcia Pankratz. “I think we tended to not have very good vision and had our heads down instead of transferring the ball around and penetrate another side of the circle. Those two things together probably didn’t make for a great day for us.”
The tie was broken by Huskie defender Casey Umstead on a corner shot with 15:08 remaining in the matchup. Umstead would tack on another goal on a penalty stroke less than four minutes later, giving Connecticut a 2-0 advantage.
The barrage of goals by the Huskies ultimately became the deciding factor in the game. With 11 penalty corners to the Wolverines' two, Connecticut was able to swing the balance with its ample amount of goal-scoring opportunities.
“If you give them that many corners, they’re going to execute one or two here, eventually. And they did,” Pankratz said. “We need to have more opportunities on our end so we can even up the score, and weren’t able to do that.”
Despite the sudden flurry of Huskie goals, Michigan was able to tighten the margin with a corner goal from sophomore forward Meg Dowthwaite with 3:26 remaining. The goal was Dowthwaite’s fifth in four games.
After finally getting on the scoreboard, the Wolverines kept high pressure into the waning seconds of the game. In the final minute of the game, the team had one last penalty-corner opportunity. But Michigan wasn’t able to convert, and Connecticut was able to run the clock out to preserve the victory.
“You pick up energy when you get a corner; we hadn’t had a corner all game,” Dowthwaite said. “You get a goal and it lifts the mood again and you get more energy and more confidence. So we really tried to go really hard in that last five minutes. (We) got a corner at the end but we just couldn’t finish it, unfortunately.”
Signs of fatigue were apparent given a short turnaround from last Friday’s contest against No. 25 Liberty. The Huskies had a full week of rest before Sunday’s matchup.
Even with the loss, the Wolverines look to have a promising season ahead of them, with a resume that already includes a win over then-No. 1 North Carolina. The team will look to bounce back this Friday against William & Mary.
“The last four minutes (against Connecticut) was the team that was here on Friday and last weekend,” Pankratz said. “It took us 66 minutes to get there, so that was unfortunate. We’ll just have to try to work on that and fix it for the next weekend. It’s a long season and that’s why we play the games — to get better every game so we’re at our best at the end of the season.”