Sophomore forward Abby Kastroll, was at the center of the Michigan women’s soccer team’s 4-1 win over Marshall on Sunday, taking on a distributing role early by providing two assists in the first 10 minutes.
The goals Kastroll assisted on came less than a minute apart, with midfielder Ani Sarkisian and forward Nicky Waldeck scoring in the ninth and 10th minutes, respectively. Sarkisian, the Wolverines’ co-leading goal scorer from 2015, already has two under her belt after the Wolverines’ (1-0-1) opening weekend.
On the opening goal, Sarkisian trailed the attack, but found herself on the receiving end of Kastroll’s cross, in the right position for an easy finish at the six-yard box. About 45 seconds later, Kastroll had the ball at her feet again, finding Waldeck one-on-one with the Herd’s keeper.
Waldeck lifted a shot to the upper right corner to double the Wolverines’ lead — and Kastroll, again, tallied an assist.
“I had a lot of players making good runs, so I put it up there, and (Waldeck) had a great finish,” Kastroll said.
Kastroll, now in her second season, appeared in all 21 games as a freshman, reached half of her assist count from last year on Sunday. With four goals and four assists in 2015, she is looking to improve upon that number going forward.
“(Kastroll) is developing great field vision — really growing as a player and seeing the field and the lanes where she can put the ball,” said Michigan coach Greg Ryan. “Today, again, she provided the first two: slots a great ball across for (Sarkisian) to finish, and then a good vision ball where she looked up and found (Waldeck) on the back side of the defender.”
Ryan praised Kastroll’s distributional abilities, noting that in Michigan’s season-opening tie on Friday night against Pittsburgh, she slipped through the ball that could have won the Wolverines the game in overtime.
Her ability to distribute helps spread the field, but she’s only one piece on the deep roster.
Michigan’s 29-person squad is filled with capable goal scorers, but players like Sarkisian, Waldeck and Kastroll stand out for their ability to not only finish opportunities, but also create them.
“The good news is, if opponents shut down one, somebody else can find a goal for us,” Ryan said.
Kastroll received the game’s only yellow card in the 69th minute, and Michigan coach Greg Ryan subbed her off the field for a large portion of the second half, but she made a clear impact on the game nonetheless.
Michigan added to its two-goal lead just before the 30-minute mark, when Sarkisian, this time the provider, sent a through ball for freshman forward Brooke DeSantis, who slotted it home past Marshall’s goalkeeper.
“We wanted to stay on the front foot and keep attacking, and that’s really what we did for most of the first half,” said Michigan coach Greg Ryan. “The game plan was to keep going after them.”
DeSantis’s first career goal came just four minutes after she was subbed into the match. She nearly had a second goal later in the game, but instead sent a one-time volley just wide of the post.
Marshall salvaged a goal in the 56th minute, cutting Michigan’s lead to two, but the Herd’s efforts were squandered when Waldeck scored her second goal of the game — Michigan’s fourth — in the 81st minute to seal the victory.
Waldeck’s brace was set up by a long corner kick to the back post, another strong piece of distribution from the Wolverines.
“Both (goals) had really great services,” Waldeck said.
On the front line, Waldeck and Kastroll have a dynamic striking partnership, and as evident today, they provide for each other.
“(Kastroll) is fun to play up top with,” Waldeck said. “And she makes my job pretty easy.”