It took less than a minute for the Michigan women’s soccer team to fall behind against Michigan State on Friday.
Spartans midfielder Michaela Kovacs capitalized on a rebound inside the 18-yard box to open the scoring 46 seconds into the game, putting the Wolverines in a hole early.
It was a quick start to a long day for Michigan as it fell to Michigan State, 3-0. The Wolverines dropped to 7-4 (2-1 Big Ten) on the season with the loss.
“Our team was flat the entire day,” said Michigan coach Greg Ryan. “They won’t make excuses for themselves. I won’t make excuses for them. They did not put in effort representing the kind of Michigan we want to represent when we step on the field, and this is what happens.”
One of the Wolverines’ best chances of the game came in the sixth minute, when senior midfielder Corinne Harris took a shot from inside the 18-yard box that hit the crossbar.
“We got a little unlucky, a couple shots off the post,” Harris said. “Overall we were just battling, they were battling, and they knocked theirs in and we didn’t. That’s something we are going to keep working on this week and for the rest of the season.”
While Michigan had won three straight over the Spartans coming in, the Wolverines were never really in Friday’s game. They conceded more goals than they had in any other game so far this season, and did not put any real pressure on the opposing defense.
Michigan had twice as many shots as Michigan State, but the Wolverines forced Spartans goaltender Gabrielle Gauruder to make just two saves.
On the other side of the ball, it was the opposite story. Michigan State took just seven shots but scored three goals. If it weren’t for sophomore goalkeeper Megan Hinz’s two saves, the fixture may have been even more lopsided.
Michigan had some opportunities on set pieces, drawing 12 fouls, but the Wolverines were unable to take advantage of any of the dead-ball situations.
“Every single year we play them it’s a huge battle,” Harris said. “Michigan State is obviously one of our biggest rivals, so I think both teams anticipate the game for a long time. They came out on top today and had the better chances, and knocked them in, so all credit to them.”
One of the Spartans’ fouls did turn into an opportunity for Michigan in the 58th minute, when senior defender Christina Murillo hit a free kick on frame. But Gauruder was up to the challenge, tipping it over the crossbar for a Michigan corner.
Junior defender Anna Soccorsi was the only player to play every minute for the Wolverines, as 10 substitutes saw action for Michigan. The bench also played a large role for Michigan State, as its goals in the 61st and 67th minutes came from substitutes Kristelle Yewah and Erica Goodenough, respectively.
“I think they are going to get a couple of days’ rest,” Ryan said. “This is finally a little bit of a break for us. Hopefully they will get some energy back and hopefully bring some fresh legs, fresh minds and fresh hearts to the next contest.”
Michigan, which has not won on the road this year, will have plenty of lessons to learn from its contest against Michigan State, with games at Maryland and No. 2 Rutgers looming next week.