The No. 17 Michigan women’s soccer team left Ann Arbor for Ohio its first road trip of the season very confident. After a weekend in which it defeated Texas in the first-ever night game at U-M Soccer Field and then came back to tie No. 6 Texas A&M, the team was undefeated and riding high.
But the Wolverines left Miami Soccer Field on Sunday afternoon with its first loss and a bit of a reality check.
Michigan came out of Friday’s game against Ohio with a 3-2 win. But even though they allowed just two shots on freshman goalie Madison Gates, the Wolverines could not convert on a single one of their 18 opportunities and dropped the match 1-0 on Sunday.
“We really dominated the play today,” coach Debbie Rademacher said. “We were on the attack pretty much the whole game, but this was just a game where we couldn’t finish our chances.”
The over-matched Red Hawks converted at 18:53 when Lindy Slinger headed a cross past Gates. Despite Michigan’s constant pressure, that goal proved to be the difference in the match.
“They came out really fired up,” senior forward Therese Heaton said. “It was their first home game, and they came out and got a goal really early. We put pressure on them until the very end of the game, but we just couldn’t find the net.”
The Wolverines had 12 shots on goal in the second half but were never able to finish the job. Freshman Danelle Underwood, who scored the game-winner against Texas, had a career-high six shots and Heaton added four. For Heaton, the game marked the end of a three-game point streak.
“It’s disappointing to lose this game,” Rademacher said. “This was a team that we match up really well with, and we dominated play. We just didn’t finish.”
One of Michigan’s best opportunities came with just under two minutes left in the match. Sophomore midfielder Jamie Artsis controlled the ball and fired a shot directly in front of the Miami net, but goalkeeper Shannon Chew stopped it to keep the shutout intact.
Gates was starting just the second game of her career. Despite facing little pressure, she allowed an early goal and did not gather a save.
“I thought she did well,” Rademacher said. “The one that was scored on her was a beautiful goal, and that’s one that is going to get scored no matter what you do.”
The Wolverines did not expect to go undefeated, but they did not expect their first defeat to come at the hands of the Red Hawks either. Sunday was just the second time in school history and the first time in five years Miami knock off a nationally ranked team. One reason for the loss could be that it is a young team on its first road trip. But mostly, the team just needs to capitalize on its scoring chances.
“It’s a good sign – we are getting chances and getting opportunities offensively,” Heaton said. “We put pressure on them right up until the game ended. We’ve just got to convert.”
As the Wolverines approach the Big Ten season, they plan to use this game as a learning experience. The lesson learned: Never underestimate an opponent.
“We might have come into the game a little over-confident,” Heaton said. “We misjudged our opponent a little bit. But we have to use this loss and learn from it. We are a much better team than we showed today.”
Michigan had an easier time finding the net on Friday, as they beat Ohio, 3-2. Senior forwards Heaton and Katie Kramer led the team, and Kramer scored the winner at 65:03. Heaton added two assists.
The team returns to Ann Arbor this weekend for a night game against Western Michigan on Friday before traveling to South Bend for a Sunday game against the Irish.