Sophomore forward Meg Dowthwaite and junior forward Emma Way typically lead the Michigan field hockey team in firepower. But in Friday’s 6-0 win over Michigan State, they had plenty of help.
The Wolverines’ offense looked untouchable as they scored six unanswered goals, bringing their total to 15 in the last two games.
The pressure came early and often as Michigan’s first goal was scored by junior forward Emma Way just over eight minutes into the game. From there, the offense was relentless. Five additional players found the back of the cage, including freshman forward Kragen Metz who scored her first collegiate goal.
“It’s an unprecedented feeling,” Metz said, “I’ve never felt anything like that — to score for the maize and blue.”
Metz scored off a tip-in from a pass by fifth-year senior midfielder Esther de Leijer to begin the second half. Metz’s goal highlighted a strong start to the half as the Wolverines applied heavy offensive pressure.
“She’s fast, she has a lot of tenacity and she works really hard,” said Michigan coach Marcia Pankratz.
The Spartans appeared to be overmatched as Michigan outshot them an astounding 20-to-5, with the bulk of Michigan State’s shots coming in the final few minutes of play. The Wolverines responded to the late pressure with ease, as senior goalkeeper Sam Swenson made four saves in the second half to seal Michigan’s shutout of its cross-state rival.
Sometimes players let their emotions get the better of them playing in rivalry games. During this match however, cooler heads prevailed as this young Wolverine team with eight freshman played with composure. The team even managed to score a goal despite being down a player due to a green card issued to the Wolverines early in the second half.
“Michigan State brings a lot of emotion,” Pankratz said, “so we needed to just focus on the process and just play hockey.”
That’s exactly what Michigan did. For the second consecutive game, the Wolverines consistently shut out their opponents, putting to rest questions about the ability of the offensive unit — particularly how well they would be able to control the ball inside the circle and win one-on-one matchups.
“It’s not easy thing to do — to stay focused the whole match,” Pankratz said, “It was good practice for us, and I was proud of (the team). And we were able to get the shutout for Sam.”