Freshman Paige Laytos waited 12 games for her first collegiate goal. She barely had to wait 48 hours for her second.
Laytos scored her first goal with the eventual game-winner in Michigan’s 2-1 victory over rival Michigan State on Friday. Her second capped off a dramatic 5-3 comeback win against upset-hungry Miami (Ohio).
“It was definitely a relief (to score against Michigan State),” Laytos said. “I felt like I gave myself the confidence to know that I could do it, I can score. It was like taking pressure off me, because I’m a forward and you’re supposed to score.”
Miami (2-1 Mid-American Conference, 5-8 overall) seemed poised for a surprise victory against No. 20 Michigan (2-1 Big Ten, 7-7 overall) after jumping out to a 3-0 lead 25 minutes into the first half. But the Wolverines refused to mail in their final 45 minutes of play.
Junior forward Lucia Belassi put Michigan on the board with her team-leading sixth goal of the season with about five minutes left in the first half.
In addition to the momentum from Belassi’s goal, the team got a further boost from senior tri-captain Mary Fox’s halftime speech.
“I was really mad,” Fox said. “I basically said that we’ve already had a crummy loss to Providence earlier in the season, and we weren’t about to go through that again. We all just needed to pick it up, because it was unacceptable the way we were playing in the first half.”
The Wolverines dominated possession in the second half. Just after Miami goalkeeper Megan Stengel recorded her 12th save of the game, senior tri-captain Eleanor Martin hit junior midfielder Ashley Lennington with a great pass. Lennington shot the ball past Stengel to bring Michigan within one.
Belassi, who started the Wolverines’ scoring, was again involved in Michigan’s game-tying goal. The Uruguay native had a wide-open shot on the Miami cage. A desperate Redhawks defender tried to deflect the ball, but she knocked it right to sophomore forward Stephanie Hoyer, who tipped it in for Michigan’s third goal.
Fox scored the game-winner with four minutes to go, finding an opening between two defenders. With no one pressuring her, Fox took the ball on the reverse and caught Stengel off-guard.
“It was so relieving,” Fox said. “I didn’t want to go into overtime, because I was tired. I was just relieved and wanted to keep it going for the last four minutes.”
Michigan did more than just hold off the Redhawks. With less than a minute left in the game, Laytos pounced on a deflected shot from senior midfielder Kristen Tiner and stuffed it past Stengel – the final nail in Miami’s coffin.
After the hard-fought loss to No. 1 Maryland last weekend, and this weekend’s two victories, the Wolverines’ confidence is high. They competed with the best, won tight games and overcame big deficits.
“This is great preparation for next weekend for Indiana,” Michigan coach Nancy Cox said. “The kids are playing on multiple different (teams’) home fields. We really haven’t had home-field advantage very often this year. . I think going to Indiana, it’ll be a great match.”
Michigan, along with Penn State and Ohio State, has just one conference loss. Indiana is the only team still undefeated in Big Ten play.