Coming off a 1-1 overtime tie against then-No. 25 Rutgers, the Michigan women’s soccer team entered Thursday’s match against No. 22 Northwestern looking for its first win of the season against a ranked opponent.
Knotted in a four-way tie for second place in the Big Ten alongside the Wildcats, Penn State and Wisconsin, the Wolverines knew this game would be a high-stakes affair and possibly a season-defining match. In need of a big performance, Michigan coach Greg Ryan made his pitch to the players.
“We said to the seniors today, ‘Look, this is your legacy. We need to come up with some big wins, and you need to step up,’ ” Ryan said.
Answering the call to action, Michigan senior captain and midfielder Corinne Harris delivered with an energy-packed performance and a brilliant first-half goal that gave the Wolverines a 1-0 victory, putting them in prime position to challenge for the Big Ten title this season.
“This is huge for us,” Harris said. “We were a little disappointed with the tie on the road last weekend because we were so close, but getting a win against a ranked team at home is a great confidence booster going forward, so I think we’re going to take a lot of momentum from this one.”
With the first half winding down, the Wolverines had total control of the run of play, dominating possession and creating a multitude of scoring opportunities, thanks in part to the play of Harris in the center of activity. She seemed to be running the show, facilitating the offense with her pass distribution and play-making ability. The only missing piece was a goal to give Michigan the lead.
But Harris provided that too, scoring the game winner in stunning fashion in the 35th minute.
Harris received the ball from freshman forward Reilly Martin, who was running down the left flank. Taking two long strides to her right, Harris found a pocket of space in the middle of the field. Despite being surrounded by Northwestern defenders on both sides, Harris unleashed a rocket of a shot from about 25 yards out. The ball soared through the air into the upper right corner of the goal, hitting the underside of the crossbar and bouncing in. It’s one of the most difficult shots in the sport, but when successful, it’s one of the greatest.
“She’s just an amazing player,” Ryan said. “She’s been the heart and soul of this team for years. She’s the engine, anywhere and everywhere.”
Harris is a multifaceted player, operating on both offense and defense to great effect. She is a versatile weapon for the Wolverines, one they will need as the stretch run of the season draws near. A savvy veteran and a crucial leader, Harris will undoubtedly play a major role in the fate of the team this season. By all indications, there’s no one the Wolverines would rather have.
“That is one kid I don’t want to play against because she is unbelievable,” Ryan said. “She does it all for us.”