BY JAKE LOURIM
Daily Sports Writer
Published August 31, 2013
It didn’t happen against Wisconsin-Milwaukee or Oakland. It came against Eastern Michigan, a cross-town rival that has never beaten Michigan. But the Wolverines were finally tested Friday.
“I knew this was coming,” said Michigan coach Greg Ryan. “I didn’t know it would be tonight, but I knew it was coming, and I didn’t know which end we’d end up on.”
Senior captain Meghan Toohey scored the game-winning goal to lead Michigan to a 2-1 win in overtime.
Michigan (3-0) led 1-0 for most of the game. Although Ryan said his team struggled in the second half, it appeared Michigan would escape with a 1-0 victory.
Finally, Eastern broke through.
Bianca Rossi rolled a shot from the edge of the box toward the far post. Michigan freshman goalie Taylor Bucklin dove for the shot but couldn’t reach it. The game was tied with 6:33 left in regulation.
From there, the intensity escalated, and Michigan went to overtime for the first time in the young season.
“I’m much happier with this win than any of those other wins,” Ryan said. “It was a tougher opponent, more determined, took us to overtime and made us really show our character.”
Eight of 10 Michigan goals before Friday had been scored by underclassmen. In the extra period, a senior came through.
Toohey received a pass from fellow senior captain Shelina Zadorsky on the left flank and floated the ball toward the far post. She would say later she didn’t know whether it was a shot or a cross, but it didn’t matter. The ball sailed over the goalie for the game-winning goal.
Michigan had plenty of chances, but Eastern Michigan goalie Megan McCabe made eight saves.
“For us, that one was the least dangerous,” said Eastern Michigan coach Scott Hall, referring to Toohey’s shot. “The keeper got caught thinking someone was going to head it, and it floated to that back side. We didn’t get pressure on the ball quite quick enough, and she was able to get in.”
Hall, whose team also took Ohio State to overtime in Columbus before falling, 2-1, was disheartened.
“I’m gutted,” Hall said. “We’re playing the cream of the crop. For our team, unfortunately, we don’t get anything. Bigger picture for us, we play with good teams.”
Still, Eastern Michigan had tested Michigan the most of any team.
In the first half, Michigan took the lead on another goal by a freshman. Senior forward Shelby Chambers-Garcia fed a pass from the end line into the box for forward Madisson Lewis, who shot it inside the left post.
“We got the great goal in the first half, had most of the possession, then they started turning the tide and running at us,” Ryan said. “For most of the second half, we didn’t play well at all. At 1-0 and not playing well, I’m nervous.”
Michigan settled down after that, failing to pull away as it did in its first two games.
“We needed a game like this because soccer matches aren’t normally the kinds of games where we’re putting up nine goals on a weekend and the other team’s putting up one,” Ryan said. “Soccer matches are more like this [Friday]. It’s just come too easy for us. We needed a game like this tonight. We had to do everything we could to keep them off the board. When they got one, we had to do everything we could to get one back.”
Michigan will have just one day off before its next game against San Diego State on Sunday. Three Wolverine defenders played all 100 minutes Friday night.
“We’re going to need the people who didn’t play as many minutes to step up and win for our girls on Sunday, just like some who played a lot today,” Toohey said. “We’re so deep this year. That’s why we’re going to be so good. I’m not worried about it—just take our rest, then take them on and play our soccer.”
San Diego State could be in the same position. The Aztecs tied Michigan State Friday, 1-1, in double overtime. They had four players play at least 100 minutes.