The Michigan women’s soccer team learned on Thursday that it had not qualified for the Big Ten Tournament, thus its final game against Indiana served as one last chance to end the season on a high note. Offensive deficiencies obstructed any success.
The Wolverines (7-8-3 overall, 2-6-2 Big Ten) lost their last game of the season 1-0 to the Hoosiers (3-7-7, 1-7-2) in a stark offensive contrast to Thursday’s upset over No. 15 Rutgers. Despite a slight offensive surge in the second half, Michigan was unable to find opportunities on goal.
“We just didn’t get the breaks that we needed,” Michigan coach Jennifer Klein said. “…Obviously we would love to create a few more opportunities and better looks in front of goal.”
Better looks were difficult to come by in Sunday’s game, with only 36% of the Wolverines’ possession time in the first half of play occuring in their attacking half of the field. On the contrary, Indiana occupied their attacking half for 70% of their possession in the first 30 minutes. Simply put, the Hoosiers’ defense smothered Michigan early, leaving the Wolverines stuck on their own side for the majority of the first half.
Indiana’s sole goal of the game was scored off a corner kick 24 minutes into the match, and in messy fashion. The ball bounced off the head of junior defender Sarah Bridenstine and the foot of graduate goalkeeper Izzy Nino before being chipped into the goal by Indiana midfielder Ava Akeel.
The following 20 minutes of the first half remained stagnant offensively for the Wolverines, but more impressive on the defensive side with Nino saving four shots before the half ended.
“Defensively, I think it was a bit unfortunate to give up a goal on the corner kick and set piece, overall we did okay,” Klein said. “We gave so much on Thursday night, and I think (it was) just a little bit challenging today.”
Following halftime, Michigan showed signs of a shift on offense and defense, improving from three shots to eight and limiting the Hoosiers to three of their own. However, this shift proved to be not large enough and failed to result in any goals from the Wolverines.
Michigan took five shots in the final 10 minutes of the game, but Indiana’s defense didn’t let up. The Wolverines kept fighting for the entire 90 minutes, with senior forward Hannah Blake attempting to score with one second left, only for the ball to land anticlimactically in the hands of the Hoosiers’ graduate goalkeeper Bethany Kopel.
Although it was Nino’s last game, she remains hopeful for what next year’s season will bring.
“There’s been a lot of versatility and some people that took on some different roles,” Nino said. “…I’m really excited to see how those roles that were opened can be filled with a lot of the different players on the team.”
Despite this positive outlook, it is clear Michigan will need more than some versatility to protect themselves from the unstable offense exhibited this season.