On a day full of emotions, the seniors on the Michigan field hockey team, stepped up and put on a solid defensive showing on Saturday.
The Wolverines continued their defensive dominance with a 3-0 win over Ohio State, closing out the regular season on a strong note.
Michigan (7-1 Big Ten, 15-3 overall) tallied its third consecutive shutout and extended its win streak to nine games, dating back to Sept. 27, leaving the seniors with a lasting memory on Senior Day. Throughout the streak, the defense has allowed just four goals and has shut out seven of the teams it has played.
Saturday was no different, as the Wolverines’ defense controlled the entire game, not allowing the Buckeyes (4-4, 9-9) to take a shot until late in the second half. Michigan committed zero penalties that resulted in corner shots in the second half, giving Ohio State little to work with.
“The defensive effort was really solid,” said Michigan coach Marcia Pankratz. “They’ve got some dangerous players. I thought (senior back Mackenzie Ellis) was really solid back there. (Senior back Lauren Thomas) is always. They are experienced, and every game, they’ve been able to really put a cement wall in front of our goalkeeper.”
But defensive success does not come easy. In the 25th minute, Thomas received a yellow card, requiring her to sit out for 10 minutes. Playing one player short, a second bad break came in the 29th minute when senior midfielder Jaime Dean received a yellow card, taking her out for five minutes as well. The Wolverines were forced to play the end of the first half at an 11-on-9 disadvantage.
“Being able to stay together as a team is really what helped break down the (disadvantage),” said sophomore midfielder Katie Trombetta.
One of the most impressive aspects of the game was not just shutting out the Buckeyes, but also not allowing a shot until the 66th minute. Michigan controlled the entire game, and it never let up.
“(We were) trying to get every 50-50 ball and really putting it all out there,” Ellis said. “Just making sure that we get a shutout is the goal.”
Strong defensive performances are not rare for the Wolverines. Michigan leads the Big Ten in goals-against, averaging 0.82 goals per game. The Wolverines also lead the conference with nine shutouts.
“We’ve played good team defense,” Pankratz said. “All 11 players are on defense when we don’t have the ball, and our forwards run really hard. Our midfielders are smart and our defenders in the back line are solid in their tackling. It gives us a lot of confidence.”