Sammi Woods received the pass near the centerline, standing what seemed like miles away from the Ohio State net. Yet, within a span of seconds, Woods had dribbled right through the heart of the Buckeye back line, depositing the ball into the bottom left corner of the net.
For Woods, a true freshman from Saline, MI, it marked her first career goal, coming within her first six minutes on the pitch. It also marked the Michigan women’s soccer team’s only goal (0-0-1 Big Ten) in a 1-1 double-overtime draw against Ohio State (0-0-1).
“(Woods) stepped up well and didn’t seem flustered or frazzled by the moment,” Michigan coach Jennifer Klein said. “I think she could have had a couple more goals as well.”
Woods’ goal came after 30 minutes of neck-and-neck soccer, as both teams effectively moved the ball up and down the pitch, peppering both goalkeepers with shots. The Wolverines closed out the first half holding onto their 1-0 lead, thanks to two crucial saves from senior goalkeeper Hillary Beall.
Coming out of the break, Buckeyes forward Emma Sears equalized. Despite the goal concession, Beall’s confidence wasn’t shaken. Just minutes after conceding, Beall made two back-to-back free kick saves to keep the Buckeyes goal tally at one.
As time winded down during the first 90 minutes, neither team’s offense produced a game-winning goal, sending the match to overtime. During the two 10-minute overtime periods, the Wolverines had two shots and the Buckeyes had three, yet none were able to find the back of the net. Ohio State goalkeeper Bailey Kolinsky finished the match with seven saves, while Beall finished with a career-high 15 saves.
“(Beall) comes up with some really good time for us and keeps us in the game,” Klein said. “(She has lots of) overall experience (and an) understanding of the game.”
Beall’s defensive leadership and experience were even more crucial to Michigan in the season opener due to the absences of 2019 Big Ten Midfielder of the Year Sarah Stratigakis and sophomore defender Jayde Riviere. Both were selected to the Canada women’s national team for the SheBelieves Cup.
This was the first time that both teams took to the pitch since November of 2019, as the Big Ten season was postponed to the spring. Considering the long break, players, coaches and fans alike were happy to get an extra 20 minutes of soccer, especially in such a close match.
“It was a surreal moment to be back and playing in a competition,” Klein said. “It was nice to get a game under the belt and kind of get back into a game rhythm.”
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