The Michigan women’s soccer team’s season has been defined by trouble in the box — its match against Ohio State was no different.
Despite a strong defensive performance, the Wolverines (5-3-2 overall, 0-2-1 Big Ten) couldn’t pot the ball against the Buckeyes (6-2-2, 1-1-1) in a scoreless draw.
Michigan’s defense held up well against a formidable Ohio State offense, protecting the net from its rival. Even the Wolverines’ attackers made a consistent effort to get back on defense and protect the goal.
“We wanted to make sure that we were good defensively,” Michigan coach Jen Klein said. “We knew that they were gonna have some very good attacking personalities, so we wanted to make sure that we were good collectively in our defensive press.”
Fifth-year goalkeeper Izzy Nino showed increased comfort in her new starting role notching five saves — including an impressive leaping grab after a ball came whipping at the upper 90.
On the other half of the field, sophomore forward Kacey Lawrence and senior forward Lily Farkas sent in cross after cross and shot after shot to try and put Michigan on the board.
Early in the first half, Michigan crowded into the box searching for an early lead. Junior forward Sammi Woods crossed it in from the right side of the field, and Lawrence tried to chip it in with a cheeky little chop move that went wide. The crowd sighed and moaned in frustration — a feeling that became all too familiar.
“You kinda scratch your head a little bit,” Klein said. “We’re in really good spots and we’re showing some good balance and technical ability.”
But the sighs continued to echo all night.
In the 32nd minute, Farkas fed the ball into Lawrence leaving her in a one-on-one with Ohio State goalkeeper Katherine Robinson. Robinson slid into Lawrence’s feet to snatch the ball up.
The first half continued with the same energy of discontent, frustration and anger on the field.
Lawrence was fouled and knocked to the ground multiple times, but she remained resilient on the field and continued to push up and down.
“Ah man, that girl was on fire; the one thing she was missing was a goal, Klein said. “She is such a spark of energy, her ability to go and have one gear. A spark plug that just fires and goes. She brought some unbelievable energy and brought some really good chances for us.”
The second half started with the same energetic push up the field. Wolfe sent a shot soaring high above the net, and it was followed up with a curving corner that missed outside.
The crowd once again held their breath midway through the second half as Farkas faked out her defender to launch a would-be-game winner that slammed off the crossbar.
Even with the Wolverine’s brilliant efforts on both sides of the ball, they couldn’t capitalize on their opportunities to win, a continuing theme of their lackluster season.
Michigan is teetering on dropping to .500 with half the season to go — sinking to the bottom of the Big Ten rankings.
And if the Wolverines want to be competitive in the Big Ten with the likes of No. 4 Rutgers and No. 17 Penn State, they’ll need to shoot better against respectable competition. They can’t just rely on their admirable defense.
As the saying goes, defense wins championships — but only if the offense can put up points too.