One hundred-twenty minutes of soccer.
Sweat and dirt dripping off all players.
But only the Michigan women’s soccer team was pleased with the result.
The Wolverines shut down the top offense in the Big Ten in a 0-0 tie with No. 8 Purdue. Under the scorching sun at the U-M Soccer Field yesterday, it was Michigan that turned up its play in the second half.
The contest marked the final game in Michigan’s series against Indiana teams after tying the Hoosiers 1-1 on Thursday.
Michigan’s defense silenced a Purdue offense that had scored 35 goals in 14 games this year. The Wolverines cleared away most of the dangerous Purdue possessions and relied on a stellar game from goalkeeper Madison Gates to steer away the rest.
“I thought this whole weekend (the defenders) stayed organized, and they were taking the ball away before (Purdue) took shots,” Michigan coach Debbie Rademacher said.
Michigan’s veteran defensemen, seniors Lindsay Cottrell and Emily Kalmbach, led the Wolverine defense in its stifling effort against Purdue. Freshman Jackie Carron and sophomore Kylie Neschke blocked several Purdue shots and cleared the ball nearly every time Purdue posed a threat.
Michigan struggled in the first half, allowing Purdue to control the ball in its offensive zone. Gates made three crucial saves, including a one off a cannon shot from the left side where she leapt to top of the goal to knock the ball down. Her efforts allowed the Wolverines to maintain a first-half tie.
“She was outstanding back there,” Carron said. “That one save she made where she tipped it over and got it. We might have been a goal down with out her.”
Michigan’s defense bent to the Purdue offense, but it never broke. The Wolverines survived the first half and adjusted for the second half.
It paid off, as the defense faced considerably less pressure, the Michigan offense had several scoring opportunities itself.
Michigan nearly put away the Boilermakers in the final minutes of regulation. Freshman Amanda Bowery fed the ball to junior Katie Miller, who was alone on the left side of the box. But out of nowhere, a Purdue defender streaked in to block her shot away.
The Wolverines had another opportunity just seconds later with a corner kick, but it was cleared away by Purdue.
“We had some very good opportunities to finish the game,” Rademacher said. “That is certainly something we need to work on.”
The Wolverines’ game against Indiana finished in similar fashion.
Michigan found itself on the wrong side of a 1-0 deficit, but found a way to tie the game back up.
Senior forward Sarah Banco knocked home a shot off a corner kick in the second half and knotted up the game in the 53rd minute.
The game certainly helped a struggling Michigan team gain confidence, which allowed it to play so well against Purdue.
“(This game) was a huge moral victory for us,” Banco said. “Even though we didn’t win, we tied and that’s a step for us.