After a 1-1 tie against Santa Clara (2-3-1) Friday, the No. 23 Michigan women’s soccer team was slated to face No. 11 South Carolina as its last opportunity to come out of the Notre Dame Invitational with a win. And for a brief moment, it looked like a possibility.

Just eight minutes into the game, junior forward Reilly Martin sent a free kick towards the Gamecocks’ goalkeeper, who managed to punch it away without an issue. But sophomore defender Jada Dayne was there to head the ball to the back of the net, giving the Wolverines an early 1-0 lead.

Michigan was eager to walk away with a win, but two second-half goals from South Carolina (5-1) meant the Wolverines would leave the Notre Dame Invitational with a tie and a loss.

Trouble arose when Michigan (3-1-2) allowed two goals within a matter of minutes. The Wolverines maintained their one-goal lead through the first half, but in the 54th minute South Carolina’s midfielder Bianca Galassini collected a deflection in the box and slotted it in. Michigan struggled to keep its composure, and Galassini took advantage of a poor clearance and chipped it into the top right corner for her second goal of the day.

From there on out, the Gamecocks controlled the game. South Carolina dominated possession in its half of the field until the final whistle blew. The Wolverines didn’t even get their first shot of the second half until the 75th minute, when redshirt junior forward Taylor Timko ripped a shot to the far-right post that sailed wide.

A quiet outing from junior midfielder Abby Kastroll surely impacted the Wolverines’ chances against the Gamecocks. Kastroll registered only one shot Sunday, where Friday she managed six shots and had the game-tying goal. She pressured Santa Clara’s backline, which allowed for freshman midfielder Sarah Stratigakis to send a through ball for Kastroll to tap in.

Michigan coach Greg Ryan doesn’t consider the weekend unsuccessful, though. With only one game left before conference play starts, Ryan knows the strong competition will prepare his team for what’s to come.

“We have a lot of younger players and this kind of experience is huge,” Ryan said. “We had the opportunity to play two teams that were in the Elite 8 last year of the NCAA Tournament, so I think this will help us face the top teams in the Big Ten.”

Still relatively early in the season, Ryan’s top priority is giving players as much playing time as possible. Two goalkeepers saw action this weekend, with senior Sarah Jackson starting Friday and freshman Hillary Beall starting Sunday. The two combined for nine saves on the weekend.

While Ryan was pleased with his team’s performance, there is still plenty of work to be done before the Big Ten season begins. Michigan started five freshmen in both games over the weekend, and its inexperience was evident. The defense was especially suspect as the Gamecocks’ two goals came off defensive errors.

With the goalkeeper position up in the air and new faces in the backline, the Wolverines now look to create a rhythm with their defense and hope the experience from beginning of the season was enough to garner a successful run in conference play.

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