In their blowout of Central Michigan, the Wolverines executed their "don't let up" mentality to a T. Tess Crowley/Daily. Buy this photo.

After splitting the first two games of the season and struggling to excel on the road, the No. 3 Michigan field hockey team entered Sunday’s home-opener with the chance to cement its identity. In front of their home crowd, the Wolverines wasted no time showing exactly who they are.

On Sunday, Michigan (2-1 overall) beat Central Michigan (1-2) in a dominating 9-0 fashion and outshot the Chippewas 39-1. With the statement win, the Wolverines displayed more than just an ability to score — they showed their relentless mentality. 

And with that ethos — characterized by high intensity and strong communication — it didn’t take long to translate to on-field success. 

Less than two minutes into play, sophomore forward Abby Tamer opened up the scoring for the Wolverines. After finding herself open near the left post, she put Michigan on the board with a shot past the outstretched Central Michigan goalkeeper. Tamer continued to shine, scoring a second goal a minute later to add to the lead.

“I think we came out with great intensity,” Michigan coach Marcia Pankratz said. “I was really proud of our team for that.”

Throughout the first quarter, the unyielding mindset from every Wolverine on the field proved effective, preventing the Chippewas from running any form of offense. Not only was Central Michigan unable to create any shots off, they didn’t even get the ball into Michigan’s striking circle. 

And as all of the Wolverines’ lines locked in, the offense found further success. In the final three minutes of the opening quarter, sophomore midfielder Alana Richardson scored two goals, giving Michigan a 4-0 lead entering the second quarter. 

“What our team is known for, especially the forward line, is just high pressure all the time,” Richardson said. “We just like to put the defenders under pressure constantly.”

Michigan also flexed its strength on defense. 

Despite Central Michigan’s attempts, the Wolverines kept the ball out of their striking circle, limiting the Chippewas to just one shot — the only one they would get all game.  

“We’ve been working really hard on good communication and good organization (from the defense),” Pankratz said. “I think we’re gaining confidence about stepping up and intercepting balls and keeping the pressure on.”

That strong and coherent communication is something Michigan has prioritized, not just from the defense, but from the entire team. It’s crucial to the identity it exhibited on Sunday, and it’s something that continues to play a critical role in its success.

“(The communication) is everything, it really is everything,” Richardson said. “Every single line, you have to have that connection and that starts with communication. If you’re going to step up, you need to step up as a unit.”

Coming out of halftime — even with a 5-0 lead — the Wolverines maintained the intensity they displayed from the start of the game. They continued to showcase their “don’t let up” mentality, preventing Central Michigan from taking a single shot and adding four more goals to their lead.

Early in the third quarter, Tamer netted another goal, completing her hat trick and extending the lead. Along with Tamer’s individual accomplishment, the Wolverines thrived as a team. Six different players scored and six more chipped in with assists. The prioritization of communication and playing as a unit was evident from start to finish. 

“I think (it’s) that ‘don’t let up’ mentality, just continuing, no matter what the score is,” Richardson said. “The score isn’t what we’re looking for, it’s just the progress and how we play, because no matter what the score is … we should just keep playing hard.”

As Big Ten play nears, Michigan not only needs to find ways to win, but it needs to do so coherently as a unit. On Sunday, it made a statement: 

The Wolverines know exactly who they are.