Confirming its newly minted No. 1 national ranking, the Michigan field hockey team made a statement in a 12-0 rout of Ball State in its home opener on Friday. The Cardinals were prevented from even attempting to make a dent in the score, finishing with zero shots and zero corners in the game.
In contrast, the Wolverines posted 39 total shots, 33 of which were on goal. Notably, none of Michigan’s goals came off a corner shot, despite the Wolverines receiving 14 opportunities to do so. In the three games since their 3-2 dogfight over former No. 1 North Carolina, Michigan has scored 22 unanswered goals and allowed only six shots.
While seven Michigan players joined in on Friday’s scoring, senior midfielder Sofia Southam provided the plurality of the goals, scoring five and breaking the Michigan record for goals in a single game, previously set at four by Rachael Mack in 2013.
“It feels great, but it’s a team sport, there’s no one single person,” Southam said. “We’ve always had this great team connection.”
Asked about the dominant start to the season, Southam emphasized the team’s mentality.
“We’re not focusing on the outcome, we’re focusing on doing the right thing every practice, every play,” Southam said. “We’re keeping it day-by-day, game-by-game.”
For the Wolverines, any fears of fatigue from their springtime national runner-up campaign appear to be unfounded. With this year’s finals being hosted in Ann Arbor in the 20th anniversary year of Michigan’s lone national title win, Michigan coach Marcia Pankratz — who has led the team to all five of its Final Four appearances — welcomed her team’s early-season play as they look toward a formidable Big Ten conference season and beyond.
“We’re a very deep and versatile team, so we can run lines almost like an ice hockey game,” Pankratz said. “(The team is) going to play as hard as they can until they get tired and switch out. In practice, the younger players are getting reps at a high tempo against some of the country’s best players. They’re getting better and better and better.”
In addition to Southam’s five goals, senior forward Tina D’Anjolell also scored two goals in two shots. Freshman midfielder Abby Tamer led the team with two assists, adding a goal for three points in total. Redshirt senior mid-back Emma Tamer and redshirt senior back Halle O’Neill finished second and third on the team in shots with six and five, respectively, but both players were unable to find the back of the net. Freshman back Emmy Tran and sophomore forward Katelyn Clarke scored their first career goals in the third and fourth quarters, respectively.
With this being Michigan’s first home game with fans since the 2019 season, emotions were high, both in the stands and on the field. Following the game, Pankratz summed up her elation:
“What a great night to play field hockey in Ann Arbor, right?”
Daily sports contributor David Woelkers can be reached @dawjr98.