Late in a first half that had yielded open chances but no goals for the Michigan women’s soccer team, a pair of freshmen blew the game open for the Wolverines. Right back Jayde Riviere sent a cross from near midfield that caught the Maryland defense off guard and set Michigan up with a scoring opportunity. Fellow freshman, forward Dani Wolfe, finished off the play, out-racing Maryland’s center back down the pitch and tapping the ball in off a deflection.
“The goalkeeper shifted,” Wolfe said. “And it was just a little hard work to outrun the second center back to finish that for us.”
It was this play and others made by the two freshmen that helped give Michigan a convincing 3-0 victory over the Terrapins on Sunday and a berth into the semi-finals of the Big Ten Tournament.
“They’re continuing to grow and continuing to get better within our group,” said Michigan coach Jennifer Klein. “I think you see the confidence, I think they’re really getting to know the expectations for them as players.”
Wolfe has continued to impress after a stellar freshman regular season, where she earned a spot on the Big Ten All-Freshman team. She also tallied an assist in the match after coming off the bench.
“This is such a great group of girls who work so hard,” Wolfe said. “So, I just match that when I come onto the field and just work as hard as I can. As a freshman coming in, you just make the impact you can.”
Wolfe nearly scored later in the game as well, when she just barely struck wide off a pinpoint pass from Riviere — a connection that reflects the bond that the two have formed off the field, as well.
“Dani and I are very close friends outside of this environment.” Riviere said. “… She’s like a sister to me and I think that kind of helps with the chemistry on the field. We go to the field and get some repetition together, so I think it just shows in the game.”
Riviere, for her part, played a multi-faceted role in Michigan’s gameplan. Her contributions from right back did not end up in the box-score statistics, but she managed to impact the game in all three areas of the pitch. Riviere has handled her demanding role well this season, and found herself on the Big Ten All-Freshman team with Wolfe.
“As a fullback at Michigan, the demands are that you’re an end-to-end player,” Riviere said. “You should be able to get in attack and be able to get back and defend.”
As the season has gone on, these two talented freshmen have forged a strong bond and helped each other to grow. Their progress this season has proven invaluable to the Wolverines, and will be a boon for Michigan as it continues its postseason run.
“They’re confident, they’re relaxed,” Klein said. “And I think they’re having fun, which I think you can see when they’re on the field.”