Two minutes and 56 seconds into the No. 15 Michigan field hockey team’s match at Indiana, freshman midfielder Kelsey Reviello stared down a golden opportunity.
Forcing an early penalty corner past Indiana’s keeper, the Wolverines surged ahead of an unproven Hoosiers team on Friday as Reviello launched the direct shot off an insert from senior forward Lora Clarke. The Wolverines (6-4 overall, 1-2 Big Ten) held that lead for the final 57 minutes of regulation, picking up their first conference victory by blanking the Hoosiers (4-7, 0-4), 2-0.
While Michigan may have squandered eight such circumstances in its loss to No. 1 Iowa last week, it clearly learned from its mistakes and emphasized those chances this time around.
“I think our team really came out strong,” sophomore goalkeeper Caylie McMahon said. “To be able to step up early and get two goals was something we really needed going into the game.”
The second of those two key goals arrived off the stick of freshman forward Juliette Manzur. With two minutes left in the first quarter, Manzur redirected a stray penalty corner and past sprawling goalkeeper Shannon McNally into the back of the cage.
This second goal helped the Wolverines find their groove, allowing them to play smart hockey instead of rushing into mistakes. Their more controlled style was a change of pace from the last few weeks where Michigan was reeling, losing to No. 1 Iowa and then-No. 17 Ohio State for the first time in over a decade.
“We came out hot and had great pressure,” McMahon said. “Our defense really stepped up well in the (shooting) circle and a good team victory was something that we needed to propel ourselves going into Northwestern on Sunday.”
That aggressive defense was complimented by a controlled offensive disposition and ace goalkeeping. McMahon’s stalwart effort was especially obvious in the second half of the match as Michigan repelled five penalty corners, two while down a defender via green cards.
“We’ve been working and competing really hard in practice every single day,” McMahon said. “We’ve been working as hard as physically possible to get the result that we wanted and to get another win in the win column.”
While the Wolverines did not have an offensive chance of their own down the stretch, the climax of Michigan’s defensive effort came at the hands of McMahon. Her sliding stop of an Indiana penalty stroke at the end of the third quarter, which kept the Wolverines up two goals, carried the defense into a confident fourth quarter.
McMahon saw the 2-0 victory as a morale booster.
“Up to this point we might not have gotten the results we’ve wanted but we’re building every single game and that showed today,” she said.
Michigan is still molding its foundation with talented freshmen and strong defense and that worked to its benefit in the win. But the Wolverines will need more consistency, if they want to see similar results later in the season.