Usually, the No. 4 Michigan field hockey team’s starters lead it to victory. But on Thursday, it needed contributions all down the lineup.
In a tight 1-0 game, the Wolverines (3-1 overall) used their deep roster to hold off Miami of Ohio (2-3) and drive the intensity of the game.
“We work to the last bit of our energy,” fifth-year midfielder Kathryn Peterson said. “It’s definitely just a Michigan ‘the team, the team, the team’ thing (to) do it for your team and give your best effort until you can’t.”
As the game progressed, it became apparent that Michigan was quicker, deeper and more physical. The Wolverines displayed a level of grit that propelled them to the win. Eighteen players contributed over 15 minutes to the effort on both sides of the ball.
“(Our depth) frees up players to play as hard as they can,” Michigan coach Marcia Pankratz said. “And we’ve got great versatility and depth, and we trust all of our players to be in the game to play at the highest level.
“And so you saw that today, and it mattered, we needed them.”
That hustle and depth led to an increased intensity that caused the Wolverines’ only goal of the game. The role of their depth opened up opportunities for the stars to go all-out to score.
Early in the second quarter, sophomore forward Abby Tamer weaved through Miami’s defense as multiple Michigan midfielders sprinted downfield to get involved in the play. Tamer passed the ball off for a shot before Peterson tipped the rebound in past the laid-out goalkeeper.
“I’m really proud of myself because it’s something I’ve never been the greatest at, being down on the pads,” Peterson said. “… Because sometimes you get too lazy to make the run all the way down there for a ball that doesn’t seem like it might get through.”
As the Wolverines held on to a one goal lead, that intensity wasn’t just on display in the shooting circle. It was apparent across the entire 100-yard field.
Michigan didn’t allow a single Miami shot until there were less than four minutes left in the game; the Wolverines only allowed two total shots during a period that saw the RedHawks up their intensity significantly.
With only five minutes left in the game, it seemed like Miami was finally able to match Michigan’s drive and determination. But it was too late for the RedHawks as the Wolverines’ defense held during back-to-back Miami corners before clearing the ball downfield and running the clock out.
“We played really good team defense and there were a lot of fast breaks that we had to hustle back on when we were tired,” Pankratz said. “So that says a lot about fortitude and competitiveness for our team.”
Michigan’s hustle is ingrained in the depth of the team. Its players know that at the slightest drop in intensity, the question facing the coaching staff is who to go to, not whether there’s anyone to go to. And on Thursday against the RedHawks, that depth proved to be the difference-maker.