Less than 90 seconds into play, sophomore forward Abby Tamer received a pass and fired it into the goal. Just a minute later, she dribbled around multiple Central Michigan defenders before sliding the ball past the goalkeeper to give the Michigan field hockey team a near instant 2-0 lead.
When Tamer was given a rest a few minutes later, her substitute — fellow sophomore midfielder Alana Richardson — struck quickly and powerfully, scoring two goals of her own in just over a minute.
For a team filled with upperclassmen, the offensive story of the day was the sophomores.
“Us scoring the first four being in the same grade is really exciting,” Richardson said. “It’s a statement that says a lot about our class as a whole and how much we want to win a Big Ten championship, to win a national championship.”
Richardson scored her first goal when she tipped in a corner shot, and just like Tamer, a minute later she followed it up by gathering a pass, spinning and whipping the ball into the net for her second score.
The sophomores were far from done. Tamer kept causing problems offensively, diving after loose balls and sending the Chippewa defense all over while Richardson added an assist to her stat sheet.
After the half, their dominance continued. Tamer quickly scored again with a backhand deflection that left Central Michigan’s defenders frozen, securing her first career hat trick and bringing her to six goals on the season in just three games.
Tamer and Richardson ended the day combined for five of the Wolverines’ nine goals and 14 of their 39 shots.
“It’s exciting,” Michigan coach Marcia Pankratz said. “They’ve been working really hard and training and they bring an intensity to the practices and the games, and it’s paying off for the matches.”
The duo’s success — on and off the field — wouldn’t have been possible without their older teammates.
Both of Richardson’s goals were assisted by graduate forward Tina D’Anjolell and Tamer’s second goal came off of a pass from fifth-year forward Katie Anderson.
“Having those (upperclassmen) be able to come back and just be great for us and provide awesome feedback for us and lead by example is really what I think is so great about that class,” Richardson said.
The heartbreaking shootout loss in last season’s NCAA Tournament still sticks with every returning player on the roster. But the players who came back for an extra year also carry an overtime loss in the championship game from the season prior. That additional chip on their shoulders has led to an intense desire to win that they’ve passed down to their younger teammates.
“Those fifth years who came back,” Richardson said. “They want it really bad and come back and just perform every day.”
The performance of Michigan’s oldest players shows promise for this season. But the performance they’re bringing out of their younger teammates, especially Tamer and Richardson, raises the ceiling even higher.