The Michigan women’s soccer team’s style is all about keeping possession. Thursday night against Central Michigan, the players remain collected as they effortlessly connect pass after pass, knowing their next move far before the ball lands at their feet.

It was with this fluidity that the Wolverines scored their third and final goal of the game, putting them on top, 3-1.

With the Wolverines up 2-0 in the 64th minute, Central Michigan midfielder Eliza Van de Kerkhove got her foot on a bobbled ball at the top of the 18-yard box and sent it just over the head of Michigan sophomore goalie Megan Hinz. The Chippewas were within one.

However, Michigan (5-2) was unfazed. Winning 50-50 balls in the midfield, the Wolverines settled down the speed of play while keeping possession, waiting for their opportunity to break through their opponent’s defense.

And in the 77th minute, that’s just what Michigan did.

Freshman forward Abby Kastroll controlled the ball along the goal line, saw a hole in the Chippewas’ defense and slipped the ball through the 18 to the foot of senior forward and co-captain Corinne Harris. With one touch, Harris redirected the ball into the back left corner of the net to seal the Wolverines’ victory.

“Defensively, we just never gave up,” Kastroll said. “Finally, we got forward and got one in the back of the net. That slowed the game down and gave us more confidence.”

Outshooting Central Michigan, 24-4, it was obvious that Michigan’s forwards rose to the occasion. However, the Wolverines’ defensive unit was more important to the win than the scoring may indicate.

“We’re able to keep the ball in the back, and that opens opportunities further up the field,” said Michigan coach Greg Ryan. “As the other team comes high, we can begin to slip balls in behind.”

Using this tactic, Michigan held the ball from Central Michigan (1-3-1) for the majority of the first 20 minutes of the game before the Wolverines knocked in their first goal.

Sophomore forward and leading scorer Taylor Timko took full advantage of a rebound off of a Chippewa defender, hammering Central Michigan’s remains towards the far right post. Timko clenched her fist in celebration before the ball even hit the net, knowing the shot was clearly out of reach of any deflection.

Less than 10 minutes later, Kastroll capitalized on a failed clear by Central Michigan. Taking a right-footed volley, Kastroll pummeled the ball toward the far left post, putting Michigan up 2-0 going into the half.

With all three Michigan goals scored by different players, the Wolverines put their depth on display. And the first seven games this season have proved that any Michigan player in the offensive third is a threat.

“It’s nice to know that all of your teammates are there to support you and can all come in and make a difference,” Kastroll said. “When you have a lot of goalscorers, it’s really hard to defend.”

Michigan needs to continue such ruckus as they head into the weekend, where they will take on their first ranked opponent of the season in No. 13 Notre Dame.

“We’re a very good team, (Notre Dame’s) a very good team,” Ryan said. “We’re gonna play our style, they’re gonna play theirs.”

Given Thursday’s result, Ryan’s style is working just fine.

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