At one point during the Michigan women’s soccer team’s 2-0 win against Ole Miss on Friday night, Abby Kastroll stopped moving, put her hands above her head and tried to catch her breath.
The sophomore midfielder had been all over the pitch — beating out any counterattack, heading balls and sliding for loose passes to clear the ball. Kastroll appeared unstoppable, but even she needed a substitute and came out of the game in the 30th minute.
After the halftime break concluded, Kastroll took the field again for the next 45 minutes. As the Rebels began an offensive onslaught in an attempt to rebound from a two-goal deficit, the Wolverines couldn’t afford to have her off the field, and Kastroll remained steadfast on defense for the rest of the match.
Kastroll’s exhaustion wasn’t a matter of her needing to improve her stamina. Rather, it was a sign of how strong of a player she is becoming — one who will give 100 percent for any minute she is on the pitch.
The 76 minutes she played against Ole Miss were no different, and they earned her praise from Michigan coach Greg Ryan after the game when Ryan approached Kastroll and said, “This was a breakout night for you.”
“She hasn’t had that night yet this year, where she just imposes her will on the game from an attacking and a defending standpoint,” Ryan said. “I thought she dominated every matchup she went into tonight.”
Kastroll’s stellar performance Friday is not an outlier when compared to how instrumental she has been in the team’s success thus far, though. On Aug. 28 against then-No. 12 Notre Dame, she put Michigan on the scoreboard first with a header in the 64th minute.
After redshirt junior forward Ani Sarkisian headed a slow ball toward the net, Notre Dame goalkeeper Ginny McGowan was primed to make the save. Kastroll, though, was positioned right in front of the net, and with no more than a split-second to react, she threw her head up and backward to head the ball just past McGowan.
Three days before that matchup, Kastroll also assisted on half of the Wolverines’ four goals against Marshall.
Kastroll has had an impressive showing of late, all of which came after she was injured during the preseason. Since Michigan began training on Aug. 3, the team hasn’t had much time off.
“We haven’t been able to rest her, so she just had to plow through it,” Ryan said after Friday’s win. “But I think she’s finally feeling really recovered from that injury. She looked really strong tonight.”
Luckily for Kastroll and the rest of the Wolverines, they were rewarded with a two-day rest period after their game Friday — a rarity in college soccer.
“They’re tired,” Ryan said. “This is huge rest for us. Then it’s just getting ready to come out and compete like we competed tonight against UC Riverside and then into the Big Ten season.”
So far, Kastroll’s success has come without an extra day of rest, so there’s no telling what kind of show she and the Wolverines could put on this Friday at U-M Soccer Stadium.