As the fourth quarter neared its close it was clear that the No. 7 Michigan field hockey team would beat Cornell. The Wolverines’ ferocious pressing and energy continued as graduate student forward Tina D’Anjolell broke through for Michigan’s third goal, cementing a win.
On Sunday, the Wolverines (4-3 overall, 0-1 Big Ten) showed their dominance despite a valiant defensive effort from the Big Red (2-3 overall), recording a 3-0 victory.
Michigan displayed its control from the very beginning of the game, winning five penalty corners in the opening six minutes. After failing to convert on 10 penalty corners in Friday’s 2-1 loss to No. 6 Penn State, it waited just five minutes before junior midfielder Lora Clarke converted its second penalty corner.
The Wolverines didn’t allow the Big Red any opportunities to mount a comeback. Although Cornell found occasional counterattacking chances at the beginning of each period, Michigan’s pressing throughout the game proved too strong, as it quickly retained control of the ball.
“It’s something we’ve been working on and it’s important,” Wolverines coach Marcia Pankratz said. “Our team did a great job of continuing to stay focused because it’s not easy.”
Michigan’s dominance came on both sides of the ball. Early in the second quarter, it extended its lead with a penalty corner scored by senior forward Sarah Pyrtek. Penalty corner execution and a strong defensive effort powered the Wolverines. They did not allow the Big Red a shot for the first half, ending the day with a 31-4 advantage on shots and a 14-3 disparity in corners.
Some players, like junior midfielder Pilar Oliveros, had a heavy hand to play in Michigan’s defensive control.
“I think Pilar did a really nice job there in that centerback position,” Pankratz said. “They’ve got some really talented players who can counterattack well so I think we did a really nice job of keeping the pressure on them.”
After the strong first-half defensive display, the Wolverines’ attack took over. Michigan recorded 22 shots and 7 corners in the second half, showing its intensity and depth against a drained Big Red side.
The relentless Wolverines continued to push Cornell despite an 11 save performance from Big Reds goalkeeper Aerin Park. In the dying minutes of the fourth quarter, Michigan had its first non-corner goal of the day as D’Anjolell finished the job.
“That’s something we’ve been working on all season, just making sure we’re in it for the full 60,” sophomore midfielder Abby Tamer said. “I think today we really proved that we can be there until the end with Tina scoring a goal late.”
The Wolverines needed a win before the upcoming slew of Big Ten games, and they got the momentum boost they needed. Yet, Michigan isn’t ready to rest on its laurels. After scoring on two of its first seven penalty corners, the Wolverines were denied on their subsequent seven. There is clear room for improvement as they look ahead to a grueling conference schedule.
“The season is not easy and the Big Ten season is the best in the nation,” Pankratz said. “The season is long and (we’ll) just take each day and prepare like we always do.”
Improvements on penalty corners and finishing will continue to be crucial for the Wolverines. Despite early troubles against ranked opponents, Michigan feels ready for the season ahead.
“The flood gates are coming soon,” Clarke said. “They’ll all start rolling in when we need them to.”