In the 2011 season, the Michigan women’s soccer team scored four or more goals only once during the entire year, in which it went 8-9-2 overall.
The 2012 campaign has yet to officially kick off, and after Tuesday’s exhibition, the Wolverines have already tied that mark.
In an exhibition match in Ann Arbor, Michigan handled Horizon League opponent Cleveland State easily in a 5-0 victory. The game lasted an extra 20 minutes to ensure that all players saw time on the field before their seasons kick off within a couple weeks.
The Wolverines didn’t play everyone, though, missing three of their standout players — Nkem Ezurike, Christina Murillo and Shelina Zadorsky — to the Under-20 FIFA World Cup.
But without the standouts, four players found the back of the net for Michigan in the one-sided game. The Wolverines found their way through a porous Cleveland State defense early and often, outshooting the Vikings, 29-3.
“I was very pleased that we created so much in attack,” said Michigan coach Greg Ryan. “Now we just have to refine it. Even though we had five goals today, we could have scored a lot more. It was good we had four different players score today, which will help the confidence. I think we’re the team where we have to get goals from some players but it’s not always (going to) be the same ladies.”
Michigan started the scoring when fifth-year senior forward Clare Stachel fooled the goalie on a penalty kick in the 8th minute in the first half. Stachel, who scored five goals last year, finished with an assist to go along with her goal.
The fifth-year senior will lead the team as a captain this year as well, after ending last year as a member of the All-Big Ten Second Team.
“I’ve always aimed to score, because we can’t win games without scoring goals,” Stachel said. “It’s my last year here, it’s my last time to leave a mark.”
The match progressed quickly until the 19th minute, when freshman forward Corinne Harris scored one of her two goals of the game. Sprinting through a large gap in the Cleveland State defense, Harris took a spectacular through-ball from junior midfielder Meghan Toohey to the net to open up the lead.
After a goal from junior midfielder Tori McCombs in the 25th minute, Michigan slowed down its pace to head into halftime. The Wolverines stifling defense kept fifth-year senior goalkeeper Haley Kopmeyer from seeing action in the game, as she racked up just two saves.
The captain was often standing at the top of the penalty box with her hands on her hips watching her teammates meticulously wear down the Vikings defense at midfield.
“It’s a good sign,” Ryan said of his goalie’s lack of action. “It’s not going to happen every day.
“Defensively we’ve been very organized. I thought today (the players) really limited very few chances for the other team.”
Michigan came out just as aggressive in the second half, scoring its fourth goal of the game in the 57th minute. Harris snuck into the six-foot box and shot around the goalie to end her day.
The Wolverines will rely on Harris and the rest of her fellow freshmen to help out a team that consists of just three seniors.
Toohey got in on the scoring bandwagon when she tapped in a ball from the middle of the penalty box in the eighth minute. The final goal of the game also caught the attention of Ryan, who was impressed with the beautiful pass that freshman midfielder Lulu Haidar lobbed over the defense.
“In our winter semester all we worked on was attacking,” Ryan said. “I think that’s really showing up right now that the girls are playing without even thinking about it when they already know where to play.”
The coach still saw room for improvement in his players’ first game of the season, though, who have 10 days before they open their season against Fordham.
“We have to improve in every area,” Ryan said. “I think our passing in the penalty box could be better. We just have to keep working on that final third because it’s going to become harder and harder to score goals as we play against stronger teams.”