The Michigan women’s soccer team formed a circle and started dancing, jumping and screaming prior to their game against Purdue. Moments later, they were screaming again — this time to celebrate sophomore midfielder Raleigh Loughman’s goal just 49 seconds into the game.
The early goal helped the Wolverines (8-2-0 overall, 3-0-0 Big Ten) to a 2-1 victory in rainy conditions over the Boilermakers (6-3-1, 2-1-0).
Michigan used the energy of this goal to keep the pressure on Purdue, forcing its goaltender, Marisa Bova, to make several saves under duress.
“We came out on fire,” said Michigan coach Jennifer Klein. “Scoring a goal in the first minute really set the tone.”
Junior midfielder Sarah Stratigakis played a large part in this fast start. She relentlessly attacked Purdue’s defense early, coming away with three shots in the first 20 minutes. But the Wolverines could not find a goal to add to their lead.
After halftime, Michigan finally broke through on a set piece. Freshman forward Danielle Wolfe made a run up the left-hand side of the field and won a free kick just outside the box. Instead of shooting the free kick, Loughman played a through ball to Stratigakis. This caught the Boilermaker’s defense off guard and allowed Stratigakis to place the ball into the bottom right corner of the goal, just beyond the reach of a diving Bova.
“That’s definitely something we’ve worked on in training,” Loughman said. “We have a few different set pieces we like to play and that’s one of them.”
The idea of practice concepts translating to the game was key throughout the night.
“I was really happy with them just executing our gameplan,” Klein said. “(They did) the things that we worked on throughout the week.”
Michigan played well in wide areas and constantly switched the point of attack — both ideas worked on during the week — but its main emphasis was on possession of the ball.
“Purdue (had) the ability to catch us just with their attacking personalities,” said Klein. “We knew that our best defense was going to be keeping the ball.”
Throughout the game, this emphasis was evident, as the Wolverines had 68 percent possession, quickly winning the ball back whenever they lost it and rarely letting Purdue out of its half.
Klein’s plan to control the Boilermakers’ attack worked, as junior goaltender Hillary Beall only had to make one save. Purdue’s lone goal came off a deflection from a Michigan player with 10 minutes left.
The Wolverines did not allow the Boilermakers an opportunity to equalize, as they followed the gameplan and kept the ball in Purdue’s half to finish the game.
As the final whistle blew, Michigan celebrated in the same way it started — singing and dancing in one big group.