Wolverines' offense sputters in second straight loss

Michigan coach Marcia Pankratz and the Wolverines couldn't manage to find offensive production Friday.

Michigan coach Marcia Pankratz and the Wolverines couldn't manage to find offensive production Friday. Buy this photo
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Sunday, September 10, 2017 - 3:39pm

Two quick shots on target just minutes into the game felt like a promising start. The No. 7 Michigan field hockey team (3-2) built momentum on the offensive and looked primed to score an early goal. But William and Mary struck first — a setback the Wolverines never recovered from. 

Just under eight minutes into the game, the Tribe (5-1) took advantage of Michigan’s defense creeping toward the halfway line as forward Cammie Lloyd sent a long ball for forward Woodard Hooper. The odd-man advantage caught Michigan off guard, and Hooper easily knocked the ball into the back of the goal.

The Wolverines tried to respond with heavy pressure, but as much as the ball was in William and Mary’s half of the field, Michigan struggled to muster shooting opportunities. 

The best chance came at the 17-minute mark when fifth-year senior midfielder Esther De Leijer sent a cross to the near post. The Tribe goalkeeper fumbled the clearance and the ball idled around the goal. Unfortunately for the Wolverines, no one was close enough to take advantage of the slip up, and William and Mary cleared the ball out of danger. 

Apart from the Tribe’s goal, the first half was relatively quiet. Both teams went into the locker room with just four shots each.

The second half provided Michigan a chance to settle into playing its game, but it didn’t prove any better for the Wolverines. The defense was solid — holding William and Mary to just two shots, but Michigan’s offense never clicked. 

“I think William and Mary played great defense on us in the circle,” said Michigan coach Marcia Pankratz. “Our forwards weren’t able to penetrate and get anything.”

With six minutes remaining, the Wolverines earned their second corner of the game — compared to the Tribe’s four. The energy was brewing and it felt like Michigan’s last chance. But then, William and Mary asked for a video referral and the call was overturned. Michigan didn’t get another corner for the rest of the game.

With the offense appearing stagnant, Michigan called a timeout in order to pull senior goalkeeper Sam Swenson for an extra attacker, but to no avail. Time dwindled as the Wolverines tried anything resembling a shot, but the game ended with Michigan tallying only one in the half. 

With so much of the season remaining, the Wolverines have time to halt their skid. Pankratz says she will make a point to focus on circle play and one-on-ones and try to turn Michigan’s high possession time and quality passing into goals — the area of the game that lost them Friday.