The Michigan women’s soccer team went 3-1 in its four game home stand to start the season. And each of the three wins was similar for the Wolverines: plenty of shots on goal, stifling defense and ample opportunities on corner kicks.
Sunday’s match against Detroit was no different, as the Wolverines won, 3-0, thanks to the same factors.
Two freshmen, defender Sura Yekka and midfielder Abby Kastroll, ignited the offense throughout. Yekka caused fits for the Titans (1-2) all night, regularly seen out-maneuvering any of Detroit’s players tasked with defending her while she had the ball. In the middle of the first half, she lobbed a strong right-legged kick from around 50 yards out to her teammates, nearly resulting in a goal.
But pressure by the Titans put Michigan in tough positions where it had to quickly react like Yekka did. Fortunately, the Wolverines were able to adjust to that style of play.
“(Detroit) was pressing us the whole game,” Yekka said. “They were running at us, but we were able to stay calm and composed.”
Added Michigan coach Greg Ryan: “They chased us for 90 minutes, and that’s a credit to (Detroit), because San Diego didn’t work this hard. … To have so few giveaways over 90 minutes is really, really good.”
Yekka played 73 minutes, her highest since joining the team.
“I was happy they were able to trust in me after a few games,” she said. “They believed in me. I was happy that I was able to play very well and contribute to the team. I was very surprised (to be in the starting lineup). I was very excited … to take on this new challenge and see how well I do.”
Added Ryan: “(Yekka) had a great night tonight. … She’s so good on the ball. You can play her (at any position) and she’ll bring it down and keep it. It gives our attacking out of the back a whole new dimension.”
Kastroll, on the other hand, played 50 minutes of action and, in the 14th minute, attempted one shot just high off the post. In the 83rd minute, she scored her first goal this season on a cross from senior defender Christina Ordonez.
“Abby is just a warrior, the way she plays,” Ryan said. “Fighting for 90 minutes. It’s wonderful that ball found her foot late in the game. I thought (Yekka and Kastroll) both played really, really well.”
In the 21st minute, freshman forward Reilly Martin’s shot on goal bounced off Titans goalkeeper Marina Manzo to sophomore forward Taylor Timko, who promptly nailed the ball into the back of the net.
A minute later, Kastroll was tripped before receiving an entry pass, which gave the Wolverines (3-1) their first free kick on the night. Senior forward Lulu Haidar took the kick, converting a 25-yarder into the back of the net. Timko and Haidar’s goals were their fourth and third goals on the season, respectively.
Michigan attempted 33 shots on the night, including 12 corner kicks, while the Titans attempted one shot and zero corner kicks.
The Wolverines head out west to Seattle next weekend, and they’ll hope use the strategy that gave them three wins to help them against Portland and Washington.
“We’ve really solidified our style,” Ryan said. “You can tell by the way we’re pressuring we’re all on the same page. … These games have really helped us solidify this is who we are, this is how we play. … I don’t think we’ve ever been this tight four games in.”