In its first eight games, the Michigan women’s soccer team could not seem to find the net. But this past weekend, the Wolverines turned the tables on their opponents by posting consecutive shutout victories. Michigan (3-4-3 overall, 2-1-1 Big Ten) defeated Wisconsin (5-4-1, 1-2) 2-0 on Friday, and then followed it up with another win yesterday, 1-0 over Minnesota (4-4-1, 1-3).
After controlling play for the first 20 minutes with nothing to show for it but a few shots on goal, the Wolverines finally put one past Minnesota goalie Karli Kopietz. Junior Robyn Vince brought the ball through the middle and flicked it up to Kate Morgan. The junior cut past a defender and slid the ball near-post past the outstretched arms of the keeper for the only tally of the game and her second of the weekend.
“I give all the credit on that goal to Robyn,” Morgan said. “She’s a great, great playmaker. Most of our goals start from the back: From the keeper to the wing through the midfield; it’s really a team effort. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time, getting perfect set-ups from my teammates.”
Morgan’s goal would hold up because of Michigan’s stellar defense,which didn’t allow the Gophers a shot on goal or a corner kick for the entire game.
“The defense had a totally different mentality in practice,” sophomore Whitney Kjar said. “Our communication is getting a lot better, and we’re starting to play a lot better with each other. It’s tough to come back from those losses early in the season, but it’s starting to come together.”
The Wolverines had numerous other scoring opportunities, but struggled to finish. None of the Wolverines’ eight shots in the second half found the net.
“At halftime we said one goal might not be enough,” coach Debbie Rademacher said. “We played pretty soccer, but we needed to finish another one. In any case, we got that one goal, and if we can win 1-0, I’ll take that.”
Minnesota struggled to threaten the Wolverines because of Michigan’s superb ball possession. The Wolverines were first to every loose ball and stretched the field by passing to open spaces all over the field.
“We have some players that are pretty good on their first touch and like to combine, give-and-go and overlap,” Rademacher said. “This was a good team to do that against. You have to keep the ball moving on Minnesota. That was our game plan.”
On Friday, the Wolverines jumped out to a lead in the opening minute of the game. Senior Erika Kleinholz took a pass up the left side and sent a through-ball to Stephanie Chavez down the left wing. The senior gathered the ball and fed Katie Kramer in stride toward the goal. Kramer, a sophomore, slammed the ball past the diving keeper to set the tone for the entire match.
“By scoring early, it sets the tone for the whole game,” Rademacher said. “We have had those types of chances a few times this season and have not been able to finish. With Katie (Kramer) doing it here today, it gave us the confidence we were looking for.”