The Michigan women’s soccer team pounded on the door right from the initial whistle Sunday in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals, dominating Maryland in time of possession and shots on goal for the entirety of the match. But for the first 35 minutes, the scoreboard didn’t reflect that.
Every time the Wolverines got remotely close to putting the ball in the back of the net, Terrapins goalkeeper Erin Seppi was ready — making her backline look good for Michigan’s first five shots on goal. But with the Wolverines consistently pushing the ball into the final third of the pitch, Maryland was bound to break.
With 9:31 left in the first half, forward Jayde Reviere manned a three-on-two counterattack. Striking a curving cross from midfield over the head of two Maryland defenders, the freshman caught sophomore midfielder Meredith Haakenson in stride, who just had Seppi to beat.
Haakenson sent a hard-hit ground ball right into Seppi’s hands, but the goaltender was unable to reel it in, setting up freshman forward Danielle Wolfe for an easy follow — tacking on the first goal in a 3-0 victory for No. 3 seed Michigan (13-4-1 overall, 8-2-1 Big Ten) over the sixth-seeded Terrapins (9-7-3, 5-5-1).
“I usually play on the right side with Meredith, so I know her movement fairly well,” Reviere said. “My thing is I love to cut inside so being on the left side, I think the coaches knew that I had a little more freedom to be able to kind of mix up the opponents mind.
“(Haakenson) was able to take a beautiful touch, able to take a shot on goal. It didn’t obviously result in a goal for her, but it did for (Wolfe) and at the end of the day, a goal is a goal.”
A probable lock for the NCAA Tournament, the Wolverines kicked off the postseason in style. Amassing a total of 21 shots and 13 shots on goal, they didn’t let up their intensity in the second half.
Ten minutes in, Sarah Stratigakis, the newly-crowned Big Ten Midfielder of the Year, found herself against two defenders in the box. As a result, Haakenson, the team’s leading goal-scorer, was left wide open for a clean through pass from Stratigakis. This time, Haakenson beat the goalkeeper and Michigan’s score doubled, giving it a comfortable cushion for the rest of the game. Forward Emma Cooper scored the first goal of her junior year campaign as well.
The shutout wasn’t the only testament toward the Wolverines’ suffocating defense. Even more revealing was that Maryland didn’t have any shots on goal and six shots total, showing that the midfielders played their part in limiting the Terrapins from breaking into the final third of the field.
“Just really happy with the clean sheet,” said Michigan coach Jennifer Klein. “We’ve had a lot of good results over the last couple of games, but just haven’t been able to get a clean sheet, so I think that today was really good for our team’s confidence moving forward.”
Michigan will have to overcome a much greater challenge next weekend in the semifinal round, traveling to New Jersey to play tournament host and No. 2 seed Rutgers, who defeated the Wolverines, 1-0, on Oct. 24.
But, with a chip on its shoulder and consistency on both sides of the ball, this team could be a tough out.