Michigan overwhelms UC Davis, bouncing back from Friday

Sophomore midfielder Kate Walker scored her first collegiate goal against UC Davis.

Sophomore midfielder Kate Walker scored her first collegiate goal against UC Davis. Buy this photo
Amelia Cacchione/Daily
Sunday, September 10, 2017 - 9:07pm

All it took was 75 seconds Sunday for the Michigan field hockey team to get its groove back. 

Converting on a corner by junior defender Maggie Bettez, senior midfielder Katie Trombetta slammed a direct shot into the back of the cage, opening up scoring for the seventh-ranked Wolverines. It was immediately apparent that Michigan’s presence differed from Friday night, where it saw an offensive slump, taking just five shots throughout the game.

Following the first goal, the Wolverines never relinquished their intensity and continued to dominate in a lopsided game. Michigan (4-2) outshot UC Davis (0-6) 30-1, drawing nine penalty corners at Ocker Field on Sunday afternoon. In their highest scoring game of the season, the Wolverines overwhelmed the Aggies, 9-0, rebounding from their previous two losses.  

“I think we thought more about our play versus their play,” said junior forward Emma Way. “I think on Friday we kind of went down to their level and didn’t get to really play our game. Today we were focused on what we do well, and every individual player doing their own job.”

Michigan demonstrated depth in addition to command, with seven separate players seeing goals throughout the game. Sophomore midfielder Kate Walker earned her first collegiate goal, and the final goal of the first half. With 2:50 remaining, Walker sent a ball into the cage off a broken corner. 

“We were really deep and had a lot of versatility in the goal scoring,” said Michigan coach Marcia Pankratz. “That’s hard to scout and hard to play against, so I feel great about it. We have a lot of talented players.”

It would be hard to find a minute in Sunday’s game that the Wolverines didn’t have their sticks on the ball, maintaining control in their attacking zone for the majority of the game. This provided comfort for senior goalkeeper Sam Swenson and freshman goalkeeper Sidonie LaPlante, who played in the second half for her collegiate debut. The two combined for the shutout in the cage.

One of Michigan’s greatest strengths displayed was its ability to capitalize on penalty corners. Seventeen minutes into the game, Way drew a penalty corner, crossing the ball to sophomore forward Meg Dowthwaite who buried into the corner of the cage. Dowthwaite was a vital part of the Wolverine offense, contributing three assists on the day.

Rushing the circle again just a minute later, Way punched the ball into the goal off a rebound, adding another goal to Michigan’s scoreboard. The junior earned her first career hat trick in the game. 

After Walker’s goal made the score 5-0 at halftime, Michigan didn’t let up in the second half, showcasing a dynamic performance with a shot count in the second half (16) surpassing that in the first (14).

After close scoring attempts off back-to-back corners in the 38th minute of the game, freshman midfielder Kayla Reed broke open scoring in the second half at 41:28. Reed sent a reverse chip into the top-shelf of the cage for her second goal of the season.

The Wolverines continued the momentum from Reed’s goal, as minutes later, sophomore forward Fay Keijer buried the ball into the lower left corner off a rebound. The flow demonstrated in back-to-back scoring plays like that between Reed and Keijer exemplified what Pankratz believed to be missing in Friday’s game against William & Mary.

“This game, because we found a lot of confidence and the game was going well, we were able to spread out, and spread (UC Davis) out,” Pankratz said. “There were a lot more gaps for them to operate in.”

Way scored Michigan’s final two goals of the game, the first on a redirected pass at the 52-minute mark, and the second in which she one-timed a pass with 12 minutes remaining. After they scored the last goal, the Wolverines maintained ball control, keeping UC Davis at their heels for the remainder of the time.

Though Michigan had a tough night Friday, it resurrected its offense Sunday, completely abandoning its struggles. And that could be helpful, as Michigan State comes to Ann Arbor to begin Big Ten play Friday. 

“I think (today) helps with our confidence,” Pankratz said. “We played sharp and crisp today, which we were trying to achieve Friday night, and I think it’s a good stepping stone for the Big Ten season which is starting Friday.”