The Wolverines’ pregame huddle was electric. The team’s highlights on the big screen brought an unwavering surge of cheering and celebration, both from the crowd and the players themselves.
The Michigan women’s soccer team (8-2-1, 3-0-1 Big Ten) entered Thursday night’s contest against Purdue (6-4-1, 2-2-0 Big Ten) on a four-game winning streak. Though that streak was put to the test against the Boilermakers, the Wolverines emerged victorious once again, securing a gritty 2-1 win to remain undefeated in Big Ten play.
Still, upon the opening whistle, any sense of security was put on hold. After losing the ball early, Michigan executed a decisive push that concluded with a pinpoint cross from freshman Jayde Riviere followed by a powerful drive from sophomore Raleigh Loughman into the corner of the net 49 seconds into the game. There were no animated celebrations, as the team left cheering to the elated crowd. Loughman’s early goal was followed by a few casual high fives and then it was right back to business.
“It kind of depends on the player and who scores, but everyone has their different celebration,” said Loughman. “I’m just one who wants to get back to it and get back to the game.”
The entire Michigan team maintained a sense of urgency throughout the first half. The Wolverines dominated time of possession and won the shots-on-goal battle, 4-1.
Michigan’s lack of complacency continued into the second half, as the Wolverines executed quick touch passes and rifled shots at the net only to be matched by the poised performance of Purdue goalkeeper Marisa Bova.
Loughman and junior Sarah Stratigakis broke the second-half stalemate when the teams traded free kicks. Loughman threaded a perfect pass handled by Stratigakis in stride, who delivered the ball to the back of the net in the 70th minute, giving Michigan a 2-0 lead.
After the lead doubled, the Wolverines didn’t cease their unrelenting dominance on the ball.
“Looking at the (scouting report) with Purdue, we knew that they would be good on the ball and would have the ability to catch us with their attacking personalities,” said Michigan coach Jennifer Klein. “We knew our best defense was going to be keeping the ball and possessing in higher areas.”
The progression of Loughman’s goal and assist mirrored Michigan’s success as of late. Scoring 49 seconds in was not enough to satisfy the sophomore. Her game-winning assist in the 70th minute was a product of unfinished business, sealing a 2-1 victory over the Boilermakers.
A four-game win streak wasn’t enough to satisfy the Wolverines. It’s doubtful that five games will do the trick either.
“That’s something we’ve worked on since last year. Last year we could get a little complacent,” said Loughman. “This year we we want to keep going at teams and keep pressing.”