Feb. 14, 2015, the Michigan women’s lacrosse team was humiliated in its season opener at Florida, 21-0.
The first match of 2016 — this time at Oosterbaan Field House — could not have been more different for the Wolverines. They scored often, en route to a 14-1 victory over a Central Michigan team making its varsity debut. Four Michigan players scored at least three goals Sunday.
“We’re trying to reach a different level,” said Michigan coach Jennifer Ulehla.
Junior attacker Natalie Carti got things going for the Wolverines when she recovered the ball in transition and scored an unassisted goal just 1:22 into the first half. In the second half, she scored three consecutive goals to both increase her goal count to both four and extend Michigan’s lead to 12 goals.
“I thought Natalie did a great job putting the ball in the net,” Ulehla said. “She was a great finisher today, and we’ve really been working with her. It was great to see her confidence today.”
Before Carti’s scoring bonanza, fellow junior attacker Jess Angerman made her mark with a goal of her own. She caught a behind-the-cage shot from junior midfielder Anna Schueller and then scored to put the Wolverines ahead, 2-0. Angerman would go on to score two more goals, including one with 47 seconds left in the game. She even assisted on a goal by Carti with 6:01 to go in the second half.
Junior midfielder Kim Coughlin also netted three goals, including one from a free-position shot early in the second half. Junior Tess Korten scored a trio of goals as well, one of which came just 0.7 seconds before halftime.
Rounding out the scoring for the Wolverines was junior Allie Breitfeller, who earned a goal a mere 56 seconds into the second half to expand Michigan’s lead to 7-0. But it wasn’t scoring that earned her Ulehla’s praise.
“(Breitfeller) created a lot of turnovers,” Ulehla said. “She was very vocal from a leadership standpoint in the offense and with getting the attack moving.”
But it was not only the offense that starred against Central Michigan. Freshman goalie Mira Shane recorded seven saves and allowed zero goals. She was briefly rested in the second half until fellow freshman goalie Alli Kothari went down with a knee injury with 23:56 remaining in the game.
The Chippewas scored their only goal on the play.
“It was great to get some younger players out there to get game experience,” Carti said. “Mira had an unbelievable game.”
Sunday was the first time Michigan opened its season at home and was also the first time it won its first contest. Feb. 13, the Wolverines will travel to Gainesville, Fla., for a rematch of last year’s opener.
“I’m hoping this year we’re a little more poised,” Ulehla said. “We have juniors now. We need to understand that we need to play and compete for 60 minutes. It takes time to learn how to compete against top programs for 60 minutes.
“We’re getting there, but we have a ways to go. I’m looking forward to see how the season goes and where we end up.”