Michigan attempting to work out kinks before traveling to California

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By Brad Whipple, Daily Sports Writer
Published August 27, 2014

No one on the Michigan women’s soccer team seems to be happy about winning its first two games this season.

The 10th-ranked Wolverines know the hard truth: this year’s team has some serious kinks to work out, and fast if they hope to avoid succumbing to them.

“We just got to keep getting better,” said Michigan coach Greg Ryan. “We had a great weekend with two-good results, and haven’t conceded a goal yet. I’m really happy with how things went in terms of the outcome, but within the game, we’ve got a long ways to go.”

Though the Wolverines’ backline came together over the weekend, Ryan expressed disappointment with his offense, which converted just four of 37 shots taken through two games — all four came on set-piece plays instead of during the run-of-play. In order to finish more chances, Ryan said his team needs to minimize turnovers and increase its physical and mental aggression at the net.

Tuesday, in an effort to address these issues, the team spent extensive time watching film from opening weekend to better understand how it can maximize its talent on the field, and focused on the simple things players can fix.

“We’re trying to find out what our M.O. is going to be,” said sophomore forward Nicky Waldeck. “It’s hard because we all are new, and we’re still getting the kinks out. Obviously we’re not perfect, which we saw this weekend, and no one is happy with the way it turned out. We’re happy we won, but we have so much more to learn.”

Waldeck, who started only once last season, will be counted on more so, after she struggled to produce in the weekend's games.

Freshman forward Ani Sarkisian and junior midfielder Corinne Harris will lead the effort in the meantime as the offense figures out how to connect and define its role. Both have proven to be the most consistent and errorless players downfield. Over the weekend, Sarkisian assisted two goals, while Harris had a hand in every one.

“I hope that through the video and training, we’ll see some improvement,” Ryan said. “But we’re going to play against two very talented teams this weekend and it’s not going to get any easier.”

Those talented teams are San Diego and San Diego State, which Michigan will play Friday and Sunday, respectively. San Diego’s defense doesn’t give many chances away, according to Ryan, and the Toreros (0-1-1) will test the Wolverines’ backline with an aggressive offense on set-plays and crossing situations.

The Aztecs (1-1), coming off last season as reigning Mountain West Champions, will be the second NCAA Tournament team Michigan will have faced this season.

With high caliber teams in this weekend’s forecast, time is running out for the Wolverines to address their scoring issues before they suffer their first loss this season.

“At the end of the day, your players have to step up and score goals,” Ryan said. “Now, we’re looking at who are going to be the players that can collectively replace Nkem (Ezurike).

“There’s not a Nkem on the park, but I think we have some really good attacking players that collectively can get as many goals as last year. But that’s a work in progress.”