Cross. Shot. Rebound. Goal.
After 327 minutes, Michigan finally ended its scoring drought when sophomore Raleigh Loughman ripped a shot into the upper corner 80 minutes into Sunday’s game. The play started when sophomore Meredith Haakenson received the ball from the corner, took a touch, turned and sent the ball towards the goal. The goalie dove and blocked the ball with an outstretched arm, but it rebounded right into Loughman’s path. A second later, the ball found the back of the net.
The crowd and the Wolverine sideline erupted.
Loughman’s goal propelled the Michigan women’s soccer team (3-2-0) to a 2-0 victory over Bowling Green (2-1-1) on Sunday.
Just two minutes after Loughman’s goal, sophomore Skylar Anderson netted her first career goal on a header off a free kick from Loughman. Anderson disappeared into a sea of white as her teammates celebrated with her.
“I can’t even put words to it,” Anderson said. “It was amazing. The whole team was there and it was just great. There’s no words.”
Entering the game, the Wolverines were fueled by something stronger than their need to snap a two-game losing streak — it was Senior Day, and emotions were running high.
Despite the added motivation of Senior Day, the Michigan offense struggled to capitalize on opportunities early on. Every time a player touched the ball, she dribbled the ball down the field, crossed it in, and a teammate aimed to get a head or a foot on the ball. Rinse. Repeat. Chance after chance came and went, but through 45 minutes, the ball never found the net.
Opening the second half, Michigan searched for a spark. Thirty seconds after the whistle, freshman Lily Farkas took on a defender one-on-one, dribbled and rifled a shot off that sailed just over the crossbar. Minutes later, sophomore Emma Cooper dinged a shot off the crossbar too. The Wolverines were a different team.
“(I told them to) just keep moving the ball,” said Michigan coach Jennifer Klein. “Look to continue to build and get in and around the goal, and when we get in, just shoot.”
With the offense missing opportunities to find the back of the net, the Wolverine defense felt the pressure to shut down Bowling Green. It outmuscled, outworked and outperformed. Play after play, the defense swallowed every ball that came its way. When Michigan’s offense seemed to stall out, the defense stepped up to create chances and restart the attack.
The core of Michigan’s defense are two veterans, senior Sura Yekka and junior Alia Martin. Every player that took either of them came up empty-handed, and through 90 minutes, Bowling Green didn’t register a single shot on goal.
“One of the biggest improvements from last year to this year is our defensive organization and presence,” Klein said. “… We have to make sure that we’re really good at not giving the opponent a lot of chances in front of our net.”