For five minutes Sunday, the Michigan women’s lacrosse team got the start it wanted in the Wolverines’ search for their frist conference win of the season.
Michigan jumped to a 2-1 lead with goals from junior attacker Jess Angerman and junior midfielder Kim Coughlan, the Wolverines (0-3 Big Ten, 6-9 overall) looked like they were going to be locked into a back-and-forth contest with the Nittany Lions.
However, the next Penn State goal sparked a 7-0 scoring run, crushing any momentum Michigan may have gained from their early offensive success.
That run proved to be too much to overcome, as the Wolverines fell to Penn State, 13-8.
“We’ve got to work on not getting in that hole,” said Michigan coach Jennifer Ulehla. “We’ve got to work on our transition and really being able to get the ball, under a lot of pressure, up the field.”
Despite the Nittany Lions’ large lead, the Wolverines made a push to close the gap before halftime, scoring two goals with less than five minutes before the break. Penn State (2-1, 10-4) quickly countered with two goals of its own, including a goal on a free position shot by attacker Madison Carter with 15 seconds remaining in the half, effectively canceling out the Michigan goals.
Carter was the high scorer for the Nittany Lions on Sunday, and the Michigan defense had no answer for her throughout the first half, as she notched all four of her goals before the break.
“In the first half we took too many chances like trying to intercept, trying to double team and stay on the double when we didn’t need to,” Ulehla said. “At halftime I just said trust your teammates and trust the defense and the goalie. Let them shoot from far out, let them shoot with a good solid defensive stance, and then our goalies will come up with the save which ended up happening.”
Though the Wolverines faced a 10-4 deficit coming out of the locker room, they didn’t roll over. Michigan managed to outscore Penn State 4-3 in the second half.
Three straight goals out of the half brought Michigan to within three with nearly 23 minutes left to play. But the Wolverines couldn’t keep that scoring pace going, scoring only once more the rest of the game.
Coughlan did her part, tallying two more goals in the second half. Despite Michigan being a player down, for Coughlan’s second goal of the half, she curled all the way across the front of the net before firing from the right side of the goal to slot it past the Penn State goaltender .
“There were some open lanes there,” Coughlan said. “Our girls on offense were moving a lot, going through for each other, and it caused a lot of open lanes.”
Added Ulehla: “You know when she gets going she’s very difficult to stop, she just goes north-south, and it’s like a bull in a china shop and she’s got a great shot. She finishes, she does a great job of really being disciplined and deceptive and finishes it really hard. Even if you put a great defender on her and you send help, they’ve got to time it right and they’ve got to make sure they don’t foul.”
But for the Wolverines, it will take more than a good start and individual performances to secure the team’s first Big Ten victory.