For the past three years, the Michigan field hockey team has dropped its early-season matchups against North Carolina and Wake Forest in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. In those seasons, Michigan was able to bounce back and ring up consecutive victories after its unsucessful start.
Like previous seasons, the Wolverines dropped their first two games against the Tar Heels and the Demon Deacons a week ago. Once again, Michigan recovered for two straight wins at Providence and Fairfield.
The Wolverines defeated the Friars (0-4) on Friday, 1-0. Despite the win, it seemed Michigan (2-2) was in a bit of a dry spell offensively. Its offense had six shots on goal against Providence, and through three games, the Wolverines had found the back of the net just twice.
But the offensive stagnation disappeared Sunday, when Michigan shut out the Stags (1-2) in a 4-0 victory.
“As you go along on the season, you start figuring out combinations and people start getting into a rhythm,” said Michigan coach Marcia Pankratz. “It was really nice seeing some of the goal-scoring threats from a multitude of players.”
A variety of players made an impact in the Wolverines’ victory, as senior backfielder Lauren Thomas, senior forward Shannon Scavelli, junior forward Courtney Enge and freshman forward Emma Way all aided in the scoring punch.
Both wins were highlighted by two goalies — sophomore Sam Swenson and redshirt junior Chris Lueb.
Sunday, the goalkeeping duo combined for four saves, with Swenson tallying five saves on the weekend, including two off a Friars' penalty corner in the first half.
“The team feels really confident with either (Swenson or Lueb) in the goal cage,” Pankratz said. “They’re smart, working hard and they organize their defense.”
On the offensive side, Enge proved to be a difference-maker. She scored the lone goal Friday, and kicked off the scoring against Fairfield.
“(Enge) is one of the fastest players in the Big Ten,” Pankratz said. “She’s always been quite dangerous with her speed, and now she’s adding being dangerous as a goal scoring threat. Both of those goals were beautiful tip-ins off the right post. I was really glad to see her contribute.”
Following its slow start to the season, the Wolverines were able to click when it mattered most, mustering 10 and 12 shots in each of their respective games.
“In every game, every part of the field — forward, midfield, defense — connection is the No. 1 thing,” Enge said. “The chemistry is there, it’s just going to increase as the season goes by.”