Some wins only take one goal.
In the first 10 minutes of the Michigan women’s soccer team’s game against No. 23 Penn State (4-4-1 overall, 0-1-0 Big Ten), junior midfielder Sarah Stratigakis passed the ball to sophomore midfielder Meredith Haakenson. Haakenson capitalized on the opportunity and fired a shot into the upper right corner of the net — scoring the only goal of the game as the Wolverines won, 1-0.
Michigan (6-2-0, 1-0-0) started strong in Thursday night’s match. The Wolverines took the first shot of the game in the 5th minute, aiming at the bottom left corner of the goal, but the Nittany Lions’ goalkeeper Amanda Dennis denied it. This near miss bolstered Michigan’s determination and ultimately helped the team score minutes later.
“They came out with really good energy at the start of the game,” said Michigan coach Jennifer Klein. “That helped them put the ball in the back of the net.”
This initial enthusiasm soon faded. Haakenson’s goal marked the Wolverines’ last shot for the first half. After they showed up on the scoreboard, Penn State dominated the rest of the half. The Nittany Lions then made six attempts on target.
“We’re playing against Penn State. That’s an incredible team with a tactical strategy,” Klein said. “It’s a credit to Penn State we weren’t able to make any more shots.”
Junior goalkeeper Hillary Beall led Michigan’s defensive effort and allowed the team to hang onto the lead. She made three saves, including a key save in the final 10 minutes of the match to secure the win.
“We continue to improve defensively,” Klein said. “They stuck together and blocked shots. Hilliary Beall made incredible saves, and she played fantastically. She had great footwork and was able to push the ball out.”
At the start of the second half, the Wolverines’ offensive struggles seemed to persist. The Nittany Lions came out strong and had a shot within the first 30 seconds. But Michigan soon found the energy it opened the game with. Minutes later, the Wolverines began pressuring again. They made an impressive six attempts on goal during the second half — double the amount of Penn State. They didn’t convert any but kept the ball away from the Nittany Lions and out of their goal.
“Each half had momentum that shifted back and forth. You get that ebb and flow with two quality teams. That’s what makes a good soccer game,” Klein said. “In the second half, we were able to take more shots and make them have to deal with us more.”
Michigan dominated the second half and prevented Penn State from making it on the scoreboard. The Wolverines proved that sometimes, it only takes one goal to be victorious.
“Preparation and commitment to the game plan helps us perform well and focus,” Klein said. “It’s how we get results. We will continue to focus and prepare for each game. We have hopes of winning the Big Ten Championships.”