Wolverines’ offense 'just a hair off' but adjusts for the win

Allison Farrand/Daily
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By Brad Whipple, For the Daily
Published September 12, 2013

After a strong 5-0 start to the 2013 season, the No. 11 Michigan women’s soccer team won its sixth straight game, 2-0 against Detroit, to earn the best start in program history at 6-0.

The Wolverines had gotten close to surpassing the previous record of 5-0 to start the season in 1998 and 2002, when they fell short in the sixth game both years.

In Thursday’s game, the first half was marked by a struggling offense. Michigan had 11 shots, two on goal, but was unsuccessful. Senior Nkem Ezurike led the team with three shots but came up short.

“Nkem was really frustrated and things were a little off,” said Michigan coach Greg Ryan.

The closest chance of the half came from freshman Nicky Waldeck. She had a very accurate shot on goal 33 minutes into the game but came up short because of a save from Detroit sophomore goalie Martha Dunbar. Dunbar had two saves in the first, but the Titan offense was unsuccessful as well. Detroit’s lack of shots along with the Wolverines’ many empty chances left both teams scoreless at the break.

“We talked about it at halftime,” Ryan said. “I just told them, I said, ‘You’re doing everything right, except all you gotta do is improve the quality in terms of getting into the box, getting the ball to players in scoring position.’ I was very happy with the way we played the first half, and there’s gonna to be those days where you’re just a hair off and it happens.”

Although the offense had a weak start, they came out in the second half looking determined. Nine minutes in, Michigan had attempted four shots with success coming on the fifth opportunity. Senior Shelina Zadorsky, a defender, was able to break through the Titan defense and kick one into the side net to put the Wolverines ahead, 1-0. The turning point seemed to change Michigan’s offense. The players appeared to wake up and began to look like a winning team.

“As you can see, we were getting a lot of chances, and it kind of just bounced back out to the right and I happened to take the touch inside and strike it with my left,” Zadorsky said.

Added Ryan: “I really felt like there was commitment throughout the (second) half.”

Michigan took 13 more shots with forward Nkem Ezurike finally finding one with her fifth goal of the season 88 minutes into the game. Another player who had a great night was freshman Madi Lewis, who had two shots and one assist.

“I thought Madi Lewis tonight had a great game,” Ryan said. “Every time she got the ball, she looked dangerous.”

Michigan has one non-conference game left against Butler on the road Sunday. A win will tie the record for most consecutive wins by the team since 1997.

“In the attack, I think we do need to continue to just be more accurate with our passes,” Ryan said. “I think if we can get the ball to Nkem more often, (we can) make (more) runs off of her. I think some of our youngsters are starting to come on their own a little bit.”

After Butler, the team will face Iowa (6-0) for its first Big Ten match of the season.