With experienced forwards like Sina Lampe and Shannon Scavelli leading the way for the Michigan field hockey team, it has not been easy for freshman Lydia Sydnor to get involved in the early part of the season.
But on Friday, the young forward turned a match against No. 18 Penn State into a breakout performance. She was a constant threat to the Nittany Lions’ defense and even drew the game’s first penalty corner, which resulted in a goal to help the Wolverines (1-0 Big Ten, 6-2 overall) to their first win of the weekend. Michigan maintained its lead for the rest of the game, beating Penn State, 3-1.
After scoring the game’s first goal, the Wolverines continued to ramp up the pressure, but were stifled on numerous occasions by Penn State goaltender Jenny Rizzo. The Nittany Lions (0-1, 2-4) responded to the attack by forging some dangerous chances of their own. Penn State came close on a penalty corner, but sophomore goaltender Sam Swenson made a swift save to keep the Nittany Lions at bay.
With just three and a half minutes left in the first half, the Wolverines scored off of another corner. Ellis passed the ball to sophomore Katie Trombetta, whose shot was deflected, but Lampe tucked away the rebound to give Michigan a 2-0 lead going into the half.
The Wolverines pushed their shot count to 17 in the second half, making things difficult for the Penn State defense, but the Nittany Lions’ offense started to work hard, too. With just under 16 minutes left, Penn State’s Shay Cannon rocketed one past Swenson to cut the Michigan lead in half.
Just as it seemed Penn State was going to make things interesting, Michigan senior defender Lauren Thomas took a pass from Ellis off the penalty corner and deposited it in the net. With that goal, the Wolverines silenced Penn State and closed things out for their first Big Ten win of the season.
“Being Penn State and the fact that we always play them hard and tough, the whole atmosphere before the game [motivated] us to play our best game,” Sydnor said.
Speaking after the game, Michigan coach Marcia Pankratz was quick to praise the whole team’s effort, especially that of her freshman class.
“They have been great,” Pankratz said. “They all came in super fit, fast and smart, and that is why they are Michigan Wolverines.”
Michigan maintained its weekend dominance on Sunday, cruising to a 3-1 victory over Kent State (1-6 overall).
In a game in which the Wolverines outshot the Golden Flashes, 15-5, the defensive unit for Michigan shone once again, even with the absence of Ellis through injury.
“We have been training really hard on our one-on-one defense,” Thomas said. “This season, it has just been something that we work on all the time … and it is just something that we really pride ourselves on.”
Even with the staunch defensive effort, the offense was not overshadowed, as the Wolverines scored early on. With just under 11 minutes played, junior forward Allie Sardo converted a Michigan penalty corner.
Then, with Michigan dominating and halftime approaching, Kent State’s Madison Thompson took the ball in the circle, twirled around two Wolverine defenders, and put it past Swenson to tie the game at one.
But that was it for the Golden Flashes, as the Wolverines responded with two quick goals to take a 3-1 lead. The first goal came off the stick of Trombetta, her second goal of the weekend.
Just 55 seconds later, Michigan dented Kent State’s spirit further, as Scavelli evaded a group of Golden Flash defenders to end the game.
It was a comfortable weekend for the Wolverines, but with Big Ten matchups coming up against Maryland and Rutgers, Michigan will look to maintain its defensive consistency and offensive prowess.