Michigan’s offense underachieves against Bowling Green

By Brad Whipple, Daily Sports Writer
Published August 24, 2014

In all his years coaching the Michigan women’s soccer team, Greg Ryan has never seen his team take this many corner kicks.

And he’s not happy about it.

Despite ending their game against Bowling Green with a 2-0 win, the Wolverines capitalized on only one of 27 shots and 20 corner kicks, many of which were close scoring chances that could’ve easily given them a much larger lead.

“As a position group, our front line didn’t do well today,” Ryan said. “Communication’s not going to help. Until they can track and pass a ball, nothing’s going to help. It’s not that they’re not in position. There were some great runs today, they just didn’t look up and see them.”

The Falcons (0-2) were pressed all game, taking just three shots in 90 minutes. They rarely crossed the midfield line, and when they did, they kept possession for a little under 30 seconds before firing a long shot.

Ryan blamed small decisions his forwards were making about where to position and move the ball. He said none of the shots his team took were any good, and mentioned an opportunity given to sophomore forward Nicky Waldeck late in the second half.

Waldeck snuck in behind the Falcons’ backline, and instead of turning away from goalkeeper Lauren Cadel toward the open net, she kicked inside toward the left post, an easy grab for Cadel.

Waldeck, perhaps Michigan’s best option at forward, took seven shots, most of which were high or wide of the goal. She only found the back of the net on a penalty shot drawn on junior midfielder Corinne Harris, and continued to show frustration with every missed opportunity.

“Nicky can do everything (former forward) Nkem (Ezurike) did,” Ryan said. “She’s just got to decide to do it.”

With 11 freshmen on the roster this year, the Wolverines work on offense isn't getting any easier.

There's talent, but Ryan is still experimenting, moving his starting left back, freshman Taylor Timko, to forward as his offense became sluggish. She made an impact right away in the second half, getting four quality shots that barely missed.

The presence of freshman forward Ani Sarkisian was felt up front as well when she assisted junior defender Christina Ordonez’s header in the 24th minute.

But regardless of how skilled Michigan’s players are or can be, they won’t have a chance at success this season without understanding each other’s play style.

“You just need to know your players and who you’re playing with because everyone wants the ball in different place,” Sarkisian said. “You really have to know what you’re working with, and then you can expect what they’re going to do with the ball to work off of it.”

Added Harris: “We’re still young and moving players around. People are going to start defining their role and getting in there and fitting together like pieces of a puzzle — we’re putting them together.”

For now, Sunday showed the Wolverines (2-0) lack the leadership and organization up front that it had the benefit of last year. After all, Michigan's defense can only hold on for so long.