The No. 10 Michigan field hockey team picked up its first win over a ranked team against then-No. 1 North Carolina in the season opener. But since then, the Wolverines have not been able to replicate that performance.
The Wolverines played back-to-back games this weekend, swiftly ousting Rutgers on Friday, 3-1, only to fall to Delaware on Saturday by the same score. Capitalizing on penalty corner opportunities, the Wolverines went 1-1.
The Wolverines started the weekend against unranked Rutgers on the right foot. Just five and a half minutes into play, senior forward Courtney Enge capitalized on redshirt junior forward Carly Bennett’s shot on goal off of a corner, putting Michigan up by one.
“Penalty corners are a huge strength of ours,” Enge said. “We have a lot of depth with many tippers on the sides.”
Freshman midfielder Meg Dowthwaite took advantage of the team’s strength at corners at the 26-minute mark, increasing Michigan’s lead to two goals. The Wolverines dominated possession in the first half, allowing just five total shots, none of which found the back of the net.
“Our defense was playing aggressively and very well,” said Michigan coach Marcia Pankratz. “We were creating a lot of turnovers.”
Just as it seemed that Michigan would coast to the finish with little retaliation, Rutgers marched down the field to net a goal at the 37-minute mark. With only a one-goal lead, Michigan sprung back into action as junior midfielder Katie Trombetta capitalized on yet another corner opportunity.
The Wolverines coasted to a 3-1 finish, outshooting Rutgers, 10-7.
The following day, Michigan faced off against No. 9 Delaware, ending in a 3-1 loss. Delaware had the advantage in corner opportunities, 5-3, and outshot the Wolverines, 8-6.
“Defensively, we played hard both games, but we played more tentatively against Delaware,” Trombetta said. “We failed to win a lot of 50-50 balls.”
Delaware came out of the gates hard, scoring a goal in the ninth minute, and then two more in the 45th and 54th. Midfielder Greta Nauck ripped a shot on goal, which bounced over the head of the Michigan goalkeeper.
The Michigan offense had trouble creating chances, as it just let two shots fly in the first half. Late in the second half, the Wolverines showed some sign of life as fifth-year senior midfielder/forward Esther de Leijer scored off of a penalty corner.
Regardless, the retaliatory effort was not enough, and Michigan fell, 3-1. With the Big Ten Tournament less than a month away, winning back-to-back games will be crucial for Michigan. This weekend, though, the Wolverines failed to win their second game against a top-10 team.