Led by junior forward Reilly Martin and freshman midfielder Sarah Stratigakis, the Michigan women’s soccer team (2-1-3 Big Ten, 5-2-6 overall) continued to improve its offensive performance during its 2-2 tie against Iowa (0-3-1, 5-5-1) on Friday night.
Goals have been hard to come by for the Wolverines this season, with the team having failed to score more than two goals in a single game since Aug. 20, including having been shutout on two occasions.
The problem has been amplified by the injuries to important goal-creating players, such as junior midfielder Abby Kastroll.
Despite this, Friday’s game offered more than a glimmer of hope for the team as it heads into its final stretch before the Big Ten Tournament. Both of the Wolverines’ goals against Iowa were scored by one of the team’s growing stars, Reilly Martin.
Martin’s second goal was especially notable. The forward shot the ball from roughly 25 yards out and the ball sailed over the goalkeeper, bringing her team back into the lead. This goal also marked Martin’s first game in which she managed to score more than one goal in a single game.
“She led the team in attack tonight,” said Michigan coach Greg Ryan. “We’re starting to see the Reilly that we’re used to seeing.”
Martin’s goals were partly the result of Stratigakis, who was continuously able to make space throughout the game and seamlessly dribble through the Hawkeyes’ defense.
“Sarah is so good on the ball,” Martin said. “I think our chemistry with each other on and off the ball is great.”
Ryan added further praise for the young star, describing her as an exceptionally talented player.
The combination of the relentless hustle and fluent ball handling from Stratigakis and the constant pressure and coordination from Martin should serve as a welcome sign as the Wolverines head into their last month of regular season play.
That said, converting more chances into goals and increasing the number of goals scored will be vital if the team wants to make an impact in the postseason.
Though the teams scored an equal amount of goals, Iowa had nine more shots than Michigan and four more on goal. Had it not been for the work of senior goalkeeper Sarah Jackson, the game may very well have ended in favor of the away team.
Despite this, Ryan remains optimistic for his team’s chances, pointing out that goals are hard to come by in the Big Ten.
“Two’s good,” Ryan said. “Especially in the Big Ten, if you can score two goals in the Big Ten you’re going to win a lot of games.”