It wasn’t overtime and it wasn’t a game winner but the No. 10 Michigan field hockey team (1-0 Big Ten, 4-3 overall) notched its third straight victory Friday night.
Once again, it’s all thanks to senior forward Emma Way.
After an onslaught of seven goals in six games to start the season, including two overtime winners last weekend, Way’s dominance came in a more balanced manner on Friday. She assisted two goals in the Wolverines’ 3-1 win over No. 17 Rutgers (0-1, 5-1).
Freshman midfielder Kathryn Peterson opened the scoring 25 minutes in with her first collegiate goal on a left-handed shot past Scarlet Knights goalie Gianna Glatz.
“It’s just fun,” Peterson said. “And my family was here so that was a little more significant, but it was just one of those goals with a good feeling about it.”
Of course, it was Way on the assist. Way came around the backside of Michigan’s press to receive the ball just outside of the circle, where she passed it beyond the last defender into Peterson’s path.
“She’s just a machine,” Peterson said. “She’s just a captain that gets the job done. You can look to her for an example.
“Emma’s getting her part done, so you gotta go get your part done.”
Minutes after the halftime break, Way notched her second assist of the game. This time, she received a corner at the top of the circle, dragged the ball to her left and unleashed a ferocious shot into traffic. Another freshman, midfielder Sofia Southam, got her stick to the ball to deflect it past Glatz.
But once again, Way was at the center of the Wolverines’ offense.
“She’s just such a special player,” said Michigan coach Marcia Pankratz. “She does some things that a lot of other players can’t even imagine doing.”
Unfortunately for Pankratz, last year’s loss of Big Ten Player of the Year Katie Trombetta means she no longer has a defensive counterpart to Way. Early in the season, that posed a challenge for the Wolverines, who allowed 10 goals in three early losses after posting 16 shutouts in 24 tries last year.
With three consecutive games of allowing just one goal, that tide may be shifting. Michigan’s defensive spirit was evident on a play late in the first half when Rutgers appeared to have tied the game before redshirt freshman defender Abbey Hutton raced back to slap the ball away from the Wolverines’ goal line.
“It’s not luck that she was in the right position to get that ball out,” Pankratz said. “She’s a smart player, and she was in the right position to make that happen.
“It’s a very, very young defense. … It’s tremendous what they’ve been able to accomplish. They’ve been really disciplined and communicate well, and they’ve been playing with a lot of confidence, so I’ve been proud of them.”
In the end, Way once again sealed the win for Michigan, extending her goal streak to six games in the process.
Like her second assist, she received a corner at the top of the circle. This time, she baited two Rutgers defenders into charging at her before calmly taking the ball around them and ripping a shot to the near post to make it 3-1, Wolverines.
With that, Michigan completed a dominating win in which it controlled the game from start to finish against an undefeated Rutgers team.
“We owned our house,” Peterson said. “And we shut them down when it mattered.”
After whiffing on each of their marquee non-conference win opportunities, that was exactly the start to Big Ten play that the Wolverines needed.