One shot — saved.
A minute later, another shot — saved.
Forty-five seconds after that, a third shot — saved.
This was the pattern for much of the weekend, as the No. 7 Michigan field hockey team (14-4 overall, 5-2 Big Ten) struggled to capitalize on offensive opportunities against No. 18 Rutgers and No. 11 St. Joseph.
While the Wolverines’ six-game win streak was broken by the Scarlet Knights (9-6, 4-3) on Friday, 3-0, they regained their momentum to edge out the Hawks (14-2) in a 4-3 victory Sunday.
Rutgers shut out Michigan, 3-0, despite the Wolverines heavily controlling the ball and outshooting their opponent, three shots to none, in the first quarter. The energy started to fall in the second quarter as the Scarlet Knights started to accumulate a lead.
“When we first came out, we were all over them,” said junior midfielder Kayla Reed. “We had a lot of scoring opportunities. We had about 10 corners and 10 shots on goal, so I think we gave ourselves the opportunity to take that game and unfortunately, you don’t always capitalize on those opportunities.”
Coming into the second half with a two-goal deficit, frantic energy kept Michigan from gaining back lost ground. Rutgers scored its third and final goal before the Wolverines regained their composure in the fourth quarter. While they applied the pressure and outshot their competition in the final 15 minutes, they still couldn’t get past the Scarlet Knights’ goalkeeper Gianna Glatz.
“That’s how (field) hockey goes,” Reed said. “If you take your opportunities that you’re given, you come out on top, and unfortunately we didn’t take the opportunities we were given.”
In the first half of Sunday’s game against the Hawks, it looked like not capitalizing on opportunities might become a trend for the Wolverines. While they outshot St. Joseph, the teams were neck-and-neck in the first quarter, tied with one goal each after 13 minutes. In the second quarter, Michigan’s defense began to falter, giving up two goals in three minutes, but this time, the Wolverines didn’t let the score get to their heads.
“In (Sunday’s) game, I think we came out quite confident and strong,” Reed said. “Even though we were still down 3-1, we knew we could do it, and I think that was the difference. We were more relaxed in today’s game and we were a little uptight in the Rutgers game.”
Pieces finally started falling into place for the Wolverines in the second half. Within 10 minutes, they tied the score at three, and during the fourth quarter, they clinched the lead for the first time all weekend.
Michigan coach Marcia Pankratz attributes the team’s win to three things: focus, impressive saves from sophomore goalkeeper Anna Spieker and the execution of circle attacks.
To be successful in the upcoming post season, the Wolverines will have to bring all three to the field, and to Pankratz, that only means one thing: practice.
“We’ve just got to get out there and get reps in,” Pankratz said. “We’ve got to execute our plays.”