For two straight games, Emma Way came through in the clutch for the Michigan field hockey team. On both Friday and Sunday, the senior forward scored game-winning goals in overtime, and she even managed to score with 8:17 remaining in the extra period in both games.
But Way’s flashy game-winners hid the fact that the Wolverines (3-3) shouldn’t have been in overtime in the first place. They tallied 17 shots against Pacific on Friday and 24 against Monmouth on Sunday, despite emerging with just four goals across the two games. With that many shots, Michigan expected to score more goals.
“Obviously it’s really frustrating,” Way said. “When you see the stats saying we have a lot of shots and no goals, you know you have to work on something.”
For the Wolverines, that something could be finishing scoring chances off penalty corners. Michigan scored off of just one penalty corner this weekend — scoring on only one of its 13 chances Sunday and none of its 12 chances Friday.
The lone penalty corner the Wolverines managed to score from was Way’s second game-winner, where there were just six Hawks on the field — just seven players on each side take the field for overtime and Pacific received a green card moments earlier — and the extra space on the field may have contributed to the scoring success.
“I think we felt good, having a little bit more room on the field now,” said Michigan coach Marcia Pankratz. “We were able to execute. I think we felt confident about that.”
Despite the last-minute scoring, the shots throughout each game were frequently saved, blocked, or just wide of the goal.
When a shot misses, sometimes it’s doomed from the start. Maybe it was sent at a bad angle or directly towards the goalie, or it just wasn’t strong enough to get through the defenders. But sometimes, it’s a case of bad luck.
“It’s a game of wins and losses, sometimes you get it and sometimes you don’t,” said sophomore midfielder Kayla Reed. “Sometimes it’s just the luck of the bounce. I’m really confident in the girls, I know they’re all great goal scorers, but now it’s just getting that into play. It’s definitely something we’re going to work on as a team.”
The Wolverines had four shots that bounced off the side or the crossbar of the goal in Sunday’s game, including a shot that hit off the side of the goal after a penalty corner. While Michigan can certainly improve its finishing, some of this weekend’s inefficiency may come down to unlucky bounces.
“We got 24 shots to (Monmouth’s) six, so we’re getting there, we’re making the opportunities,” Reed said. “Over time, we’ll start slotting them in, and when we do, hopefully that scoreboard will read a little bit more difference between the two teams.”
Misfortune likely played a part in the Wolverines’ scoring difficulty. But when they score just four goals on 41 shots in a weekend, it may take more than just improved luck for them to increase their output.