After a promising start to the season, the Michigan women’s soccer team is in the midst of a potential skid.
Since outscoring opponents 7-1 through its first three matches, the Wolverines (3-1-2) went winless at the Notre Dame Invitational last weekend, losing their place in the national rankings. Following a draw to Santa Clara, Michigan was dominated by No. 11 South Carolina in 2-1 loss on Sunday, as the Gamecocks outshot Michigan 20-8 in what coach Greg Ryan called an “uncharacteristic” defensive performance.
Michigan has been on the wrong side of shot disparities three times this season, including a 22-7 mark in its season-opening win against Washington.
While those deficiencies have yet to reflect in the Wolverines’record, No. 17 Wake Forest (5-1) will present another challenge when it visits Ann Arbor on Sunday.
The Demon Deacons’ offensive attack averages an impressive 2.5 goals per game and will look to pepper the net against Michigan’s rotating mix of goaltenders.
Freshman Hillary Bealle – who made a career-high six saves against South Carolina – and seniors Sarah Jackson and Megan Hinz have started two contests each. Statistically, Hinz has been the strongest thus far with a perfect save percentage and wins in both of her appearances.
Jackson, though, has the resume of a go-to performer that also makes her an appealing option in net. She started 18 matches and earned Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honors twice in 2016. She has also played the most minutes of any goaltender through six games.
Ryan, however, seems keen on working Bealle into the rotation since she could be the future at the position for Michigan. Bealle recorded who completed a clean slate last month against Idaho State.
Veteran faces have also emerged offensively, as redshirt junior forward Taylor Timko and junior midfielder Abby Kastroll lead the Wolverines with eight and six points, respectively. Kastroll’s ability was apparent in the Santa Clara match, pressuring the Bronco defense before tying the game with a powerful strike from 18 yards out.
Sophomore defender Jada Dayne provided the lone goal for the Wolverines against the Gamecocks during the eighth minute. Despite the shot imbalances, Michigan has been aggressive offensively early into matches, scoring in the first eight minutes in four games already this year.
Junior forward Reilly Martin – last year’s point leader – has continued her potent ways with three assists and five shots in 2017.
The Wolverines have proven talent. The question is whether that talent can handle putting a stop to a potential skid Sunday.