Freshman forward Lydia Sydnor summed up the Michigan field hockey team’s offense in one quote.
“We (have) it,” she said. “We just (need) to finish.”
The Wolverines (3-1 Big Ten, 9-3 overall) won both of their games this weekend, defeating Pacific and Indiana, 5-0 and 2-1, respectively. Throughout both matches, Michigan struggled to convert its opportunities. While the Wolverines continued to control possession and displayed impressive ball movement, they had difficulty finishing.
Michigan coach Marcia Pankratz emphasized that the team will continue to work on its corner executions, goal scoring and distribution. Fifth-year senior back Mackenzie Ellis echoed her coach’s sentiments, and the effort was on display this weekend.
The Wolverines showed tremendous offensive potential in the second half of the game against the Tigers (1-0 America East, 7-5 overall), scoring a season-high four second-half goals. Despite the significant goal tally, Pankratz insisted that at halftime and throughout the week, the team rarely changed its approach.
“We talked about a couple of tactical changes to keep possession inside of the 25 a little better and to go back to fundamentals,” Pankartz said. “We also practiced moving with the ball and not standing still.”
In the second game of the weekend, Ellis converted on Michigan’s first penalty stroke of the season for her first goal of the year. Despite being second on the team in assists, Ellis does not consider herself a playmaker.
“I’m doing my job,” Ellis said. “I don’t really score goals that often, and I just think it’s the nature of my position.”
The team won both games, but both the players and coaches felt the team underperformed offensively in the second.
“When we don’t play our ‘A’ game, it’s hard to come out with a victory,” said Pankratz. “We were able to (watch) the team battle through not having the best game and still have perseverance.”
While the Wolverines outshot both the Tigers and the Hoosiers, the key difference between the two games was that against Pacific, Michigan converted its shots. Against Indiana, the team disappointed, scoring only one goal in 12 shots in the run of play. The other goal came on a penalty stroke.
While the Wolverines’ offense struggled to finish throughout the weekend, the defense continued to shine. Anchored by sophomore goalkeeper Sam Swenson, Michigan allowed only one goal in two games.
“(Fortunately) for us, (Indiana) plays the same system,” Swenson said. “We didn’t have to do a lot of extended preparation.”
Going forward, Michigan will continue to work on its finishing. The Wolverines’ ball control and passing continues to excel, led by distributors such as Ellis and sophomore midfielder Veerle Lubbers.
On the scoring side, forward Shannon Scavelli tallied another goal this weekend, adding to her team-leading six, a positive note for an otherwise underwhelming performance on the attack.