The sense of disappointment could not be ignored Friday night after the Michigan women’s soccer team fell to No. 9 Penn State in a closely contested Big Ten Tournament semifinal.
After 61 minutes of scoreless action, Nittany Lions forward Frannie Crouse bent a shot from the edge of the penalty box that sailed over sophomore goalkeeper Megan Hinz’s head and into the back of the net. Crouse’s goal proved to be the deciding factor in Penn State’s 1-0 win.
“I just fell a couple inches short (of stopping the shot),” Hinz said. “Penn State is a very strong team, and that was a great strike.”
Though disappointed with the result of such a high-stakes game, Michigan (7-4-2 Big Ten, 12-7-2 overall) showed improvement from its match with the Nittany Lions a week ago. In their regular-season finale in State College, the Wolverines fell, 3-1, and were dominated for nearly the entire tilt.
“Today was a much more level game,” said Michigan coach Greg Ryan. “We knew it would be a tough game, and I’m really proud of our effort.”
After trailing in shots in the first half, 8-2, the Wolverines rebounded and outshot Penn State (11-2-1, 15-3-2) 10-5 in the second half. Strikes by redshirt sophomore Ani Sarkisian in the 73rd and 75th minutes came close to tying the game for Michigan, but both narrowly missed the goal.
“We got some good chances and some good shots,” Ryan said. “But it was just one of those things where theirs went in and ours didn’t.”
In addition to the second-half offensive awakening, the Wolverines can look to Hinz’s efforts as a positive moving forward. The sophomore goalkeeper has started 18 of 20 games this year, boasting a 1.06 goals-against average and six shutouts, most notably against Northwestern in the Ben Ten Tournament quarterfinals.
“She is making some plays to keep us in games,” Ryan said. “And that’s all you can ask of your goalkeeper.”
Despite being eliminated from the Big Ten Tournament, Michigan still has a glimmer of hope in the form of the NCAA Tournament. The Wolverines will wait for Monday afternoon’s selection show to see if they recieve an at-large bid.
“I think there’s a very good shot we make it in,” Ryan said. “But we know there are no guarantees, so right now we’re just sitting and waiting on Monday.”