The Michigan women’s soccer team squandered numerous chances against a formidable Marquette team Sunday. Both teams returned at least seven starters from 2014, looking to improve on down years in which neither program made the NCAA Tournament.
Marquette grinded out a 2-1 victory over the Wolverines, in large part due to some defensive lapses for Michigan toward the end of the game.
Though the Wolverines (1-1) allowed just five shots on net during the game, a two-minute window toward the end of the second half allowed the Golden Eagles (1-1) to score both of their goals.
The Wolverines had plenty of opportunities themselves, mostly in the first half. Junior defender Madisson Lewis started the attack early, leading a fast break three minutes into play and attempting a shot on goal that was stopped by Marquette goalkeeper Amanda Engel. But redshirt sophomore forward Ani Sarkisian rebounded the deterred shot and scored the goal, her second of the young season.
Shortly after, sophomore forward Taylor Timko was brought down by a Marquette defender, leading to a free kick that almost netted junior defender Anna Soccorsi her first goal on the year.
On Michigan’s second corner kick of the game, senior defender Christina Murillo sent in a well-placed pass to junior forward Nicky Waldeck that was blocked just short of the goal line by Engel.
“We had great chances,” said Michigan head coach Greg Ryan. “Our finishers have to do a better job of hitting the back of the net. I mean, when you get that many chances and you only come out with one goal — and that’s the thing, you come out with one goal at halftime — you’re in trouble. … At the end of the day, you’ve got to win that game.”
Despite only finding the net only once, Michigan’s first half consisted of 10 shots on goal and four corner kicks. In that same frame, Marquette took two shots on goal with zero corner kicks.
“(We’ve) got to play a lot better than this,” Ryan said. “We played a good half. In fact, we played a great half. We just didn’t hit the back of the net. We should have scored two, three in that first half, but we didn’t. … We found out tonight, you couldn’t play a half of soccer against Marquette.”
The Wolverines wound up with just four shots on goal in the second half.
Marquette’s defense kept it in the game, long enough for forward Allison Jacobson to tie the game with a strike into the top right of the net in the 77th minute.
Just seconds later, Marquette forward Molly Pfeiffer headed in a cross to take the lead.
“We didn’t mark in the box,” Ryan said. “They had two sniffs the entire game, and they took their chances very well. But we didn’t defend well. You’ve got one job to do when the ball’s in the flank and that’s to mark the players in the box and we didn’t do it. … We’ve been working on it, but it didn’t happen.”
Ryan feels there’s at least one adjustment the team could make to fix things.
“Grit,” Ryan said. “We didn’t have any in the second half. Nobody. (We) didn’t put the ball on the floor and play. We had no confidence to pass the ball. We didn’t work hard. We got forward and … looked like we didn’t want to go forward and just kind of stopped. We gave the ball away. I think it’s less technical; it’s less tactical. It’s more mentality.”