The ball edged just outside the reach of a Michigan defender straight into the path of Penn State’s Kristin Schnurr, who took two dribbles forward into the space in front of her. Her shot whistled low and hard past the keeper to the far post. The goal, in the 67th minute, tied Sunday’s game between the Nittany Lions and the Michigan women’s soccer team.
Fifteen minutes later, Penn State scored the game-winning goal in a similar fashion. Frankie Tagliaferri got behind the defense and curled a shot into the high near post. The 2-1 lead held for the Nittany Lions, as they improved their record to 9-5 overall, 5-2 in the Big Ten.
The Wolverines (7-7, 3-4) fell back to .500, but there were silver linings for the team.
“As difficult as this loss is, I’m actually really proud of the way that our team played,” said Michigan coach Jennifer Klein. “I thought our first half was the best 45 minutes that our group has played since being here. I just felt like it was complete.”
In fact, Michigan did dominate the first half with four shots on goal and four corners. Meanwhile, the Wolverines blanked Penn State in both categories. Most of the Michigan attack came from out wide — several dangerous crosses came from both sides, and senior winger Reilly Martin had three shots on goal.
“Yeah it’s an area that we spent a lot of time on over the last couple of weeks because I think we have some strengths in that area with some of the players that are out wide,” Klein said. “And so I think that it’s just something that we’ve been working on.”
The high point of the first half, though, was the goal by sophomore midfielder Sarah Stratigakis in the ninth minute. Winning the ball off of the Nittany Lions defender, she had a clear picture of goal 16 yards out. Coolly, she slotted the ball inside the far post beyond the reach of the keeper.
The goal was what kicked off Michigan’s dominant first half, and gave them the momentum for most of the game.
Momentum, though, changes. The Wolverines lost it at the most critical time by letting in Schnurr’s goal. From then on, the game was all Penn State. With four shots and another goal, the pressure on Michigan was mounting — and the Wolverines could not recover.