Raleigh Loughman carried the ball up the right wing with pace. The junior midfielder cut to her left on the edge of the box and looped in a cross that was knocked down by a Nebraska defender. Freshman forward Sammi Woods scooped up the loose ball and — without looking — tapped the ball with the back of her heel over towards a lurking Danielle Wolfe.
The sophomore forward took one touch on the ball and fired a left-footed screamer into the top right corner of the Nebraska goal, putting an abrupt end to a 3-2 double-overtime victory for Michigan (2-1-2 Big Ten) over Nebraska (1-2-1).
While Michigan ultimately prevailed, the first half made winning appear unlikely. In the second minute of play, junior defender Janiece Joyner overshot senior defensive partner Alia Martin on a cross-pitch pass just outside the Michigan box, perfectly setting up Nebraska forward Reagan Raabe for a first-touch shot that gave the Cornhuskers an early 1-0 lead.
Ten minutes later, Raabe weaved through multiple Wolverine defenders but lost possession two yards outside the box, coming just short of doubling the Cornhuskers lead.
In the 30th minute, though, the Wolverines received a modicum of karma. A Nebraska defender couldn’t clear the ball near the penalty spot, perfectly setting up freshman forward Kacey Lawrence for a high-velocity strike that landed in the top left corner of the Nebraska net. Lawrence’s first career goal tied it up 1-1.
Just one minute later, Cornhusker midfielder Dakota Chan connected with her teammate Marissa Popoola for a set-piece corner kick goal that gave Nebraska a 2-1 lead. Popoola’s goal was a powerful header, giving senior goalkeeper Hillary Beall no opportunity to make a save on the shot.
Despite trailing 2-1 at the half, Michigan came out firing on all cylinders at the start of the second. During the first 25 minutes, Michigan racked up 10 shots, compared to zero from Nebraska. One of those shots, a cross-net header by junior defender Sydney Shepherd, coming off of a Loughman corner kick, found the back of the net in the 60th minute, equalizing the score at 2-2.
“We figured if we could make it through the first half, and get the wind (blowing) with us in the second half we would really give us a huge boost,” Michigan coach Jennifer Klein said. “I do think that it did (help us).”
Even-footed play during the next half hour resulted in a defensive struggle, sending the match to overtime. In the first overtime period, neither team put a shot on net. The Wolverines changed that in the second overtime period. They came out of the gate with an offensive barrage, sending three shots toward the Nebraska net. In the 104th minute, Wolfe hit the post. In the 105th, she hit the back of the net.
“I (am) really proud of (the team’s) fight and grit,” Klein said. “They stayed the course and stuck to the game plan. We (got) the result so (I am) extremely proud of them.”
Neither goalkeeper played all too well today, as Michigan’s Beall and Nebraska’s Makinzie Short combined for five goals allowed but just six saves.
At the end of the day, it all came down to momentum. Nebraska felt the hot hand early, Michigan caught fire during crunch time.
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