Coughlan lifts monkey off Michigan’s back

Senior midfielder Kim Coughlan scored the game-winning goal to give Michigan a 12-11 victory.

Senior midfielder Kim Coughlan scored the game-winning goal to give Michigan a 12-11 victory.
Amelia Cacchione/Daily
Sunday, March 19, 2017 - 6:44pm

In an exciting back-and-forth battle, the Michigan women’s lacrosse team claimed its first Big Ten victory in program history by taking down Ohio State (0-1 Big Ten, 5-5 overall) in overtime, 12-11. It marks the Wolverines’ first win over the Buckeyes in their last five meetings.

Michigan (1-0, 3-7) rolled into Columbus on Saturday riding the momentum it gained from a blowout win over Detroit on Wednesday night. That energy was zapped early in the game, however, as the Buckeyes jumped out to a 5-1 lead.

The Wolverines rallied in the final seven minutes of the first half, led by senior attacker Lauren Oberlander, who scored four goals in the game. Sophomore goalie Mira Shane stopped a free-position attempt in the waning moments of the frame, allowing the Wolverines to enter halftime down just two goals with momentum on their side.

“We had about 20 shots in the first half, we just weren’t placing them the way we needed to,” said Michigan coach Jennifer Ulehla. “So, we talked about it at halftime, and I knew we were going to get just as many opportunities, it’s just a matter of really being able to finish it.”

As Ulehla expected, Michigan’s opportunities eventually translated into goals in the second half. During a stretch in which they scored five straight times, the Wolverines took their first lead of the game, 8-7 with 14:10 remaining. Just over three minutes later, senior midfielder Anna Schueler scored her 100th career goal to extend the lead to 9-7.

With less than five minutes to play, Michigan held an 11-8 lead. But, similar to the rest of the team’s wins since the program’s inception, it would not come easily.

Ohio State scored two quick goals to cut the Wolverines’ lead to one. Stunned, the Wolverines struggled to maintain the energy that had carried them on that 5-0 run early in the second half. With just 43.3 seconds left in regulation, the Buckeyes scored a third consecutive goal to tie the game at 11 apiece. The game would come down to sudden-death overtime.

“I (told the team) that every single one of you has to be thinking that we’re coming up with this draw and we’re going down on the offensive end and that we’re going to shoot and score. Period. There is no way that we are leaving this stadium without a ‘W’,” Ulehla said.

Inspired by Ulehla’s message, the Wolverines put the final five minutes of the second half behind them and returned to the field with a renewed intensity in overtime. After winning the draw, they set up their offense and prepared to strike. The ball got tossed around the perimeter for nearly a minute before it finally ended up in the netting of senior attacker Kim Coughlan’s stick in front of the goal. Like she has so many times during her illustrious Michigan career, Coughlan delivered with a game-winning shot and gave the Wolverines the thrilling 12-11 victory.

“It was unbelievable. All the seniors after that goal just looked at each other and broke down,” Coughlan said. “We’ve been working for this for four years now.”

Michigan will look to extend its winning streak to three games when it hosts Northwestern on Thursday. And with the burden of winning their first Big Ten game finally lifted, the Wolverines look forward to the rest of their conference schedule with increased confidence.