For the second time in the first 17 minutes of the game, the No. 16 Michigan women’s soccer team scored, pushing the team to an early 2-0 lead. Sophomore midfielder Meredith Haakenson passed the ball downfield to senior midfielder Brooke Cilley, who found the back of the net early in what was a long afternoon for Maryland. 

On their final home game of the season, the Wolverines (13-4-1 overall, 8-2-1 Big Ten) rolled to a 4-1 win over the visiting Terrapins (9-7-3, 5-5-1 Big Ten) on Sunday, dominating on both sides of the ball. Michigan came back strong after losing a close 1-0 match to No. 21 Rutgers three days earlier. Junior midfielders Nicki Hernandez and Sarah Stratagakis were especially impressive, notching a goal and assist apiece.

“The game before this was tough, and I knew I had to come out stronger.” Hernandez said. “Having a goal and an assist really helped me with my mentality.”

On offense, the team’s two early goals allowed them to control the ball for nearly all of the first half. According to Michigan coach Jennifer Klein, getting out to a good start is a point of focus for the team, which has now won four of its last five matches.

“It allows for us to set the tone of the game, and you’re able to control the tempo of the game and not have to chase,” Klein said. “It’s good for us and really helps alleviate pressure.”

The Michigan offense scored another two times in the second half, receiving some help along the way when a Maryland defender headed the ball back into her own net, extending the Wolverines lead to three goals. Just a few minutes later, junior Sarah Stratigakis found the back of the net with just over 20 minutes left in regulation.

As impressive as the Michigan attack was, the team’s defense may have been even better. The Wolverines didn’t allow a single shot in the first half, stymying the Maryland offense the entire game, as they finished with just two shots.

If it weren’t for a Maryland goal well into garbage time, the Wolverines would have finished with their fifth shutout of the year.

With the win, Michigan clinched a top-four seed in the upcoming Big Ten Tournament, ensuring that it will host a quarterfinal match next Sunday and enjoy a first-round bye. While their opponent in the game is currently undetermined, this Sunday’s performance left Klein feeling good about the Wolverines’ chances.

“To get a result like that, with four goals in your last regular season game, is huge for the group and our morale.” Klein said. “After this, we can officially close the book on the regular season and start preparing for the postseason.”

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