The Michigan women’s lacrosse team entered Tuesday night with a simple goal: Shut down their opponent’s offense. And the Wolverines did just that, earning their first road victory of the season against San Diego State.
A dominant defensive performance helped produce Michigan’s best start to a season in program history at 4-2.
“One of the reasons we did so well, that we won, was our defense, and not letting them score,” said Michigan coach Jennifer Ulehla. “A lot of their offense was 1-v-1 drivers, we practiced that a lot.”
The Wolverines are often recognized for their own strong offensive talent, including junior attacker Tess Korten, who won the Big Ten Offensive Player of the week honor going into Tuesday’s game. And that talent was displayed early for Michigan. Junior midfielder Anna Schueler scored the first goal 33 seconds into the game, and Korten scored her first of the game soon after. Korten finished the day with four goals.
The Wolverines continuously shut down the Aztecs offense during the first fifteen minutes of play, but following another goal by Schueler, San Diego State (1-3) won the faceoff and cradled the ball all the way down the field for its first goal of the game, making it 3-1.
Though Michigan continued to outscore the Aztecs during the first half, the goals the Wolverines allowed came when the Aztecs capitalized on their fast breaks. By halftime, though, the Wolverines led big, 7-2
At the start of the second half, Schueler completed her first hat trick of the season with a goal assisted by junior midfielder Lauren Oberlander. The initial spark was followed by 17 minutes of scoreless play before a rally by the Aztecs forced the Wolverines to clamp down once more.
San Diego State scored with 7:59 left to play to make the score 8-3, and after Korten’s fourth goal of the game, the Wolverines were challenged when the Aztecs scored three times in the last few minutes. Ultimately, though, Michigan’s resilient defense paired with its dominant offensive play won the game, 10-6.
“Our defense won this game, we didn’t have a good last ten minutes, with them scoring multiple goals at the end of the game,” Ulelha said. “We will take the win, and learn from that.”
Tuesday night’s game was the first-ever meeting for the two teams, both newer lacrosse programs in Division 1.
“I think it’s one of the wonderful things about building a program, one of many historical events you are a part of. Being in California is a great experience for us,” Ulelha said.
The Wolverines will continue their West Coast trip on Friday, when they play No.11 Southern California in another first-ever matchup.
Michigan will certainly use its victory over San Diego State as a blueprint going forward, yet the Wolverines will continue to look for improvement in refining their game.
“I just think we need to focus for the full 60 minutes. The defense played a great game and they need to continue that,” Korten said.