Defense is always a part of the Michigan women’s soccer team’s identity. Under associate head coach Dean Duerst, the Wolverines back line has established itself as something of a standout for the program with players like sophomore defender Taylor Timko, who was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman team in 2014.
The identity is strengthened with Timko, Anna Soccorsi and goalkeeper Megan Hinz leading a back line that gave up an average of one goal per game last season. Though Michigan lost a heartbreaker in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament, a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Minnesota in double overtime, it was the back line that kept the Wolverines in the contest, with Hinz recording six saves before the Golden Gophers’ attack proved too much to handle.
Changes to the team’s coaching structure will impact how the defense looks this season. With the announcement that former assistant coach Angela Napoli would no longer be with the team following the 2014 season, Michigan wound up hiring two new coaches in assistant coach Tiffany Hansen and volunteer coach Tom Anagnost.
Hansen will focus her efforts on the goalkeepers, a trio of players including Hinz, redshirt freshman Sarah Jackson and senior Maddie Clarfield. Last season, Hinz and Clarfield secured six shutout victories, down from the 2013 campaign when the Wolverines had 10 such wins. Pairing Duerst with Hansen could help the defense become just as impenetrable as it was in past seasons.
“I have known (Hansen) for a number of years,” said Michigan coach Greg Ryan in his office last week. “I’ve coached with her in the Olympic Development Program. We had talked about, if there was ever an opportunity, that (coaching at Michigan) might be something that she would consider. … (Hansen) is (an) outstanding goalkeeper coach; she’s very smart about the game.
“Tom … that one just fell out of the sky,” Ryan said. “… (He) was the head coach at the University of Miami in Florida in the ACC. (He) did a great job with the program there. … It just worked out where he could volunteer with us, and he’s been a fantastic addition to this staff. He’s an outstanding coach. We’re fortunate we’ve got a lot of talent and experience in the coaching staff.”
Prior to joining Michigan’s staff, Hansen spent four years at Dayton, where she headed goalkeeper development. Ryan said the transition from Napoli to Hansen was seamless, noting how Napoli’s final day was Hansen’s first.
Anagnost led the Hurricanes to a 19-15-5 record from 2011 to 2013, culminating in two straight trips to the NCAA Tournament. Prior to taking over at Miami, Anagnost headed the women’s soccer program at Central Michigan, where he was a two-time MAC Coach of the Year award winner, guiding the Chippewas to the NCAA Tournament twice.
Both new coaches are well established in the soccer world. Hansen, a standout goalie during her time at Bowling Green, recorded 10 shutouts in 2006, while Anagnost played with the Chicago Power of the National Professional Soccer League. Both coaches will hope to relay their experiences to a Wolverine roster that, like its coaching staff, has talent. The only thing to see is how will all of the pieces work, and if the coaching changes will complement the roster personnel in a way that might propel Michigan beyond the first round of the Big Ten Tournament this year.