The Michigan women’s lacrosse team gave No. 18 Ohio State a scare in its Big Ten opener Saturday afternoon. The Wolverines played impressive defense throughout the game, but the Buckeyes proved to be too much in the end, winning 10-9.
After going down 1-0, Michigan (0-1 Big Ten, 5-7 overall) flipped the switch and showed energy it did not appear to have in the first 10 minutes of the game. The Wolverines gained possession after a foul by Ohio State (1-0, 10-1) and pushed the ball upfield quickly, allowing junior attacker Tess Korten to find the net and get Michigan on the scoreboard.
Only one minute later, the Wolverines scored again when junior midfielder Kim Coughlan wove through the defense and bounced a shot past the Buckeyes’ goalie. Two minutes later, Coughlan scored again, sniping the shot right past the goalie’s head. Up 3-1, Michigan looked as if it was en route to an upset victory over the rival Buckeyes.
“(Getting the early lead) isn’t something that usually happens for us, but it was a great confidence booster,” said Michigan coach Jennifer Ulehla. “We have to own the first five and the last five of every half.”
Ohio State would not go away easily, though. The Buckeyes scored a goal with 14 minutes left in the first half. Michigan held on to its one-point lead with the help of impressive defense, which forced Ohio State to take contested shots. However, the Buckeyes tired out the Wolverine defense and put a shot in the net nine minutes before halftime. Michigan’s offense had gone quiet to end the half and allowed another goal to the Buckeyes. Down one with just under a minute left, the Wolverines had an opportunity to tie the game, but junior midfielder Lauren Oberlander missed a shot with an open net in the final seconds of the half.
Just as it did to start the game, Michigan came out strong to start the second half, and Korten scored her second goal of the day just 90 seconds into the half to tie the game at four.
“We just focused play to play,” Korten said. “We’ve been working on the offense all week, and really clicking on offense was one of our main goals.”
Coughlan impressed as well, netting her third goal of the day and tying the game at five. Just two minutes after Korten’s goal, Coughlan scored again to give Michigan its first lead since early in the first half.
“We were working on moving and cutting through, and I think it really showed,” Coughlan said. “I saw a lot more lanes today to drive through.”
After taking the lead, the Wolverines were in a strong position to secure the upset, but Ohio State would not go down easily and flipped the switch on Michigan. The Buckeyes then went on a 5-0 run in the next 10 minutes of the half, giving them a four-point lead, the largest of the day.
Down 10-6 with nine minutes left, the Wolverines were forced to call a timeout.
“I didn’t have to say much,” Ulehla said. “They were the ones doing a lot of talking, and they expressed a lot of heart, and really at that point, it was about getting possession of the ball. We (weren’t making) the adjustments we needed to and we regrouped. They showed a lot of heart. I just focused them in on a few different things.”
After the timeout, Korten looked determined to get Michigan back within striking distance and scored her third goal of the day, cutting the lead to three. Coughlan also continued her impressive offensive play, and her fifth goal of the game put her team within two with five minutes left to play.
The Wolverines continued to attack on the offensive end, but the Ohio State defense remained tough and didn’t allow a goal until there were just 23 seconds left. But it was too little too late for Michigan, as the Buckeyes won the following faceoff, allowing them to run off the remaining time and earn a hard-fought victory.
“We were right there and a couple things go our way and we win that game,” Ulehla said. “We are in a good place right now.”