For a game with little action, it seemed as if the Michigan women’s soccer team might come through with a positive result in its regular season road finale. That was until the 52nd minute.
Tied with Iowa (8-6-2, 4-4-1) in the Big Ten standings going into Sunday’s test in Iowa City, the Wolverines (7-8-1 overall, 3-5-1 Big Ten), having won only once on the road this season, dropped another away match, 1-0. It marked their fifth loss on the season by only one goal.
“With a new staff and changing a little bit of everything,” Michigan coach Jennifer Klein said, “you’re going to make mistakes and as you learn and as you grow, there’s a learning curve. Those goals that we’ve given up in games that have been close — those are what those mistakes are. But I think that’s actually part of the process of how do you find a way to get a result.”
Statistically, both teams stayed even throughout the night, except in one category: shots on goal. Putting zero shots on goal compared to the Hawkeyes’ five proved to be the defining difference between the Hawkeyes and the Wolverines.
“I think we were just a little bit off,” Klein said. “We created some good opportunities but just weren’t able to get something going around the goal. Overall, it was just a game where we were just a step or two off and just weren’t able to really perform at the level that I feel like we’ve been performing at in other games.
“They had a good game plan. They came at us and were a bit physical which we didn’t handle very well. And once they got a goal, they really tried to change their tactic and sat in and made it difficult to play through them. But we have to be a team that responds better to physical play. In future years, it’s going to be something we have to deal with and can’t allow to disrupt our rhythm.”
Michigan made a heavy push in the final ten minutes, as seniors Reilly Martin and Taylor Timko searched for equalizers, both taking shots that the Iowa defense deflected before they could reach the goal. The seniors combined for five of the Wolverines’ seven shots, as the team has heavily relied on them going into the upcoming final stretch of the season against Maryland and Michigan State.
“I think the big thing for them is they just need to be relaxed and loose and do what they’ve done throughout the course of the season, just taking advantage of their opportunities and not getting too caught up in the hype of it being Michigan State,” Klein said.
With two home conference games to finish out the season, Klein is looking forward to finishing the regular season with a winning record and some momentum going into the Big Ten tournament.
“Everybody has been disappointed, but I don’t think within that disappointment, they’ve gotten discouraged,” Klein said. “Like I told them at the end of the game (Sunday), we have to control what we can control and take care of business in our last two home games, and you hope that the soccer gods help us out with the things we can’t control, and we’ll see what happens at the end of Sunday.
“We still could be alive and pushing or we could be done. Either way, we need to end this season, whether it’s on Sunday or a future date, the way we want it to end.”