It may have taken the Michigan women’s soccer team some time to settle into its matchup Sunday against Indiana, but once the defense and offense clicked, the Wolverines prevailed over the Hoosiers, 2-1.
Indiana outshot Michigan in the first half, 14-9, but the Wolverines — with a seamless offense on full display — managed to find the back of the net.
In the 21st minute of the first half, junior forward Reilly Martin pivoted on a pass from redshirt sophomore midfielder Katie Foug and buried the ball past the goalkeeper in the bottom left corner of the goal.
It was a good finish by Martin. But the setup may have been even better. After a feeder pass from the back line, Foug made mincemeat of the Hoosiers’ defense, delivering a pass to Martin at the top of the 18. Martin took care of the rest.
“Just working together, offense and defense, and putting in the extra work to make that last starting run or whatever it takes to get the goal is what it was going to take to win the game today,” Martin said.
Michigan’s transition offense was in true form Sunday due to a combination of factors. First was Indiana’s formation. The Hoosiers played a 4-1-4-1, leaving the top of the defense vulnerable.
As soon as the Wolverines broke past the four midfielders, they had plenty of room to maneuver and connect every part of the field in their attack.
“The way they played opened up the counter for us,” Ryan said. “… Today I thought we were a bit more patient with it.”
That certainly showed in the 24th minute.
Following a substantial amount of coordination in the midfield area above the four defenders, fifth-year senior midfielder Ani Sarkisian lofted a ball over the Hoosiers’ defense to freshman midfielder Nicki Hernandez, who poked the ball past the goalkeeper.
Despite previous offensive woes this season, Michigan has found solace in its team communication and transitions, involving every single person on the field.
“Right from the start we knew that it was going to be a tough battle,” Martin said. “Indiana is a great team.”
Defensively, the Wolverines staved off 17 shots while letting in only one. However, the image from Sunday was not of an onslaught from Indiana’s front line, but scattered attempts by the Hoosiers to hit the net.
Michigan’s pipeline from its backline to frontline was so overwhelming that Indiana was forced to take uncoordinated and frantic shots.
After their recent losses, many would think that the Wolverines’ offense would not be able to gel enough to be productive. But Michigan proved that notion false Sunday by scoring two goals where the Wolverines showed that they were on the same wavelength, and that could easily be the key to turning things around.
“This year we’ve had a lot of possession, but we haven’t been scoring as much in the counter,” said Michigan coach Greg Ryan. “Today we started to get the counterattack fired up again.”