The weekend didn’t start off ideally for the Michigan field hockey team.
Taking on Vermont, the Wolverines found themselves down a goal just five minutes into the match, as the Catamounts converted their first shot of the game.
The deficit didn’t last long, and Michigan never looked back, cruising to a 3-1 win and giving up only one more shot the rest of the game.
Just 10 minutes after Vermont’s early score, fifth year senior MacKenzie Ellis broke through for the Wolverines (4-2) on a penalty corner. The initial shot was blocked, but the rebound careened through the air to the left side of the net, where Ellis managed to out-reach several Vermont defenders and knock the ball into the net for her first career goal.
The offense held near-constant ball possession, tallying 26 shots on goal and keeping constant pressure on the Catamounts, pushing the ball to the net at every opportunit. Meanwhile, a suffocating defense rarely let Vermont see the Wolverines’ half of the field.
The Catamounts kept Michigan at bay for most of the first half, keeping balls away from Wolverine forwards and batting away any pass that threatened in the scoring circle, with the exception of Ellis’ goal.
“Vermont came out sharp,” said Michigan coach Marcia Pankratz. “We were on our heels and had to regroup after that first goal. But I was happy with our response.”
In the second half, the Wolverines’ offense broke through. Michigan players were finding themselves open in the circle and getting sticks on loose balls. Courtney Enge and Shannon Scavelli added goals to take a 3-1 lead with 20 minutes left to play, and the final could have been far more lopsided if not for the acrobatics of the Catamount goalkeeper, who made 14 saves in the game.
“We needed more intensity in the second half,” Pankratz said. “We made some adjustments to get more comfortable on offense, and they stepped up and we got a good win.”
After two days of rest, the Wolverines faced off against Davidson on Sunday afternoon. The Wildcats clobbered Vermont 8-1 on Saturday, and offered Michigan a stiffer test.
Michigan controlled the ball again from the get-go, keeping the ball in Davidson’s end for the first 20 minutes and taking a 1-0 lead on a penalty corner by sophomore midfielder Katie Trombetta.
Unlike the Vermont game on Friday, Davidson pushed back, using an opportunistic offense to create rushes and chances after Wolverine turnovers. However, the defense stayed strong and kept the Wildcats off the board until they converted a penalty corner as time expired.
At the 64-minute mark, Scavelli struck for her second goal in as many games, finding a deflection from an outside shot right on her stick to the right of the Davidson goalie. Scavelli calmly slid the ball to the left side of the net, past the outstretched leg of the Wildcat goaltender.
Scavelli struck again 30 seconds later, this time launching a shot on the run from the top of the circle that soared over the outstretched glove of the Davidson goalie.
Michigan wasn’t done yet. Senior back Lauren Thomas pounded a penalty corner into the back of the net to give Michigan another goal just over a minute later, making it three goals in under two minutes.
“We all worked really hard all game on offense and had to stay patient,” Scavelli said. “Once one fell, it just seemed like they all started to go. It’s great for our confidence to add those goals and get the sweep.”
The sudden offensive outburst was a long time coming for the Wolverines, who tallied 48 shots in the two games but could only manage four goals before that stretch. With a major showdown against Penn State looming next Friday, the team did all it set out to do this weekend: get two wins, keep its momentum and build confidence.