If you blinked, you may have missed it. Out of nothing, Minnesota senior April Bockin received the ball at the edge of the box, took a few touches and rifled a shot into the far corner.
Michigan players fell to their knees in disappointment. For the second time in four games, the Wolverines had lost in double overtime, 1-0.
The Wolverines’ previous loss came at the hands of another Big Ten rival — Indiana — just ten days ago. Senior forward Reilly Martin and sophomore midfielder Sarah Stratigakis had given Michigan an early 2-0 lead, only to see it disappear in the last five minutes of the game. The Hoosiers pushed the game into overtime with two quick goals and then finished their comeback operation just three minutes before the final whistle.
On Sunday, as the Golden Gophers rejoiced following their sudden death goal, Michigan coach Jennifer Klein was left pondering the unfortunate trend that seems to be developing for the Wolverines.
“You’re going to face games like that where it’s just not — everything’s not clicking, and you’re just gonna have to find a way to get a result,” Klein said. “We didn’t do that against Indiana and we failed to do it again today. We can’t check out in those moments. We have to be dialed in and ready to go. Those moments are championship moments and we have to be better in those.”
Michigan may not have been firing on all cylinders, but throughout regulation and overtime, it was the one creating the better scoring opportunities. Sophomore forward Nicki Hernandez was a consistent threat to the Minnesota defense, chasing balls into the box and testing the goalkeeper. Stratigakis was also creating chances both with her passes and long shots from outside the box. Despite this, the Wolverines couldn’t apply the finishing touch.
Until the final play, Michigan had kept it relatively tight at the back, too. In fact, sophomore Wolverine goalkeeper Hillary Beall didn’t have to record a save until the second overtime period.
And yet, this seemingly advantageous combination of offensive and defensive control led to nothing. At the end of regulation, the game was still scoreless. The Gophers proceeded to pull out the victory in double overtime, breaking Michigan hearts.
Although the score lines of the two games may have been very different, the storylines weren’t. Both games saw the Wolverines dominate early before crumbling in late game situations. Whether that’s down to inexperienced youth, or just a lapses in concentration, Michigan’s inability to seal the deal has cost it two pivotal Big Ten results.
“I think we just needed to be smarter in certain situations,” Klein said. “Not put ourselves in areas where we gave the ball away, when we could have simply just kept it. But overall, I don’t think fatigue was a big factor today, we just made some bad mistakes, and lost our focus unfortunately.”