Midfielder Kim Coughlan and attacker Tess Korten refused to let No. 18 Ohio State pull away. At the 9:08 mark of the second half, the Michigan women’s lacrosse team trailed 10-6 and the Buckeyes seemed to be running away with the game. The Wolverines gave up five consecutive goals in just over 10 minutes, but this didn’t break the determination of Coughlan and Korten.
The junior duo continued their game-long attack and chipped away at Ohio State’s lead. Korten scored her third goal with 7:13 left in regulation, shortening the gap to 10-7. Two minutes later, Coughlan used Michigan’s momentum to add another goal – her fifth of the day. Despite the late surge and great offensive games by both Coughlan and Korten, Michigan fell to the Buckeyes, 10-9.
From the start of the game, Coughlan and Korten led the Wolverines’ offense. After an early goal by the Buckeyes, the two responded with three unanswered goals. Each time the Buckeyes established a lead, Coughlan or Korten brought Michigan back.
“That sort of resilience against a nationally ranked team showed a tremendous amount of character,” said Michigan coach Jennifer Ulehla of her star players.
The juniors’ high-powered offense kept the Wolverines in the game against a fundamentally sound opponent, as the two collectively contributed eight of Michigan’s nine goals.
The strong offensive performance should not come as a surprise, as Coughlan and Korten lead the team in both scoring, with a combined 49 of the team’s 107 total goals, and points, with 55 between them.
Coughlan attributes the offense’s strong showing to working on the fundamentals this week at practice, as well as moving and cutting through the defense. This allowed her to see more lanes than in Michigan’s last game, where Coughlan fired off just three shots and failed to find the back of the net.
“This week, we focused on working on the fundamentals and on the offense working together, which opened up a lot more opportunities,” Korten said.
An added motivation for the two was the opportunity to play Michigan’s rival Ohio State, a team the Wolverines have never beaten in the program’s three-year history.
“You’re not a Michigan Wolverine unless you get really pumped up and competitive against Ohio State,” Ulehla said.
After Coughlan matched her season high of five goals against the Buckeyes, she proved she thrives with the added pressures of playing a highly ranked opponent. Coughlan explained how the rivalry fuels the fire and gives her and her teammates another layer of determination.
Despite the great performance by the two juniors, Korten recognizes there are still improvements to make on the offensive and defensive ends. These adjustments may prove to be the difference in closely contested games, such as the one against Ohio State. If the Wolverines want to continue the high level of play they showed against the Buckeyes, they will have to rely on more strong performances from Coughlan and Korten.