Entering Ohio State’s North Turf Field, the Wolverines had a chance to clinch a piece of the Big Ten regular-season title and extend their season-high winning streak to 11 games. But all good things must come to an end.
The No. 5 Michigan field hockey team lost 2-1 in a crucial conference matchup against No. 18 Ohio State (4-1 Big Ten, 12-5 overall).
“This was a tough loss,” coach Marcia Pankratz said. “It was really disappointing. What we took away from it was that under pressure and even when we felt a little anxious, we still have to execute. We have to play our game, and we kind of got away from that today.”
The loss snapped Michigan’s 10-game winning streak and 11-match conference winning streak, which carried over from last year. The Wolverines (4-1, 14-4) are now tied with Michigan State and Ohio State atop the Big Ten standings with only a week left in the regular season – all three have a record of 4-1 in Big Ten play.
The loss also breaks freshman goaltender Beth Riley’s scoreless streak at 379:09.
“It’s just one of those things,” Pankratz said about Riley’s streaks. “Playing sports is not an exact science, so you just have to do the best you can. It was just one game.”
Riley had been undefeated on the season. Her first loss drops her record to 12-1.
Despite the loss, senior tri-captain Kristi Gannon continues to be on fire.
“She has always been a real important part of our attack,” Pankratz said. “Her corner execution has been really strong. We’ve been calling her number, and she has been executing.”
Gannon has scored four goals in her last three games to total eight goals on the year.
Senior tri-captain April Fronzoni was also a force in Michigan’s attack this weekend.
On Friday, Michigan faced off with No. 9 Old Dominion in a vital non-conference matchup.
The Wolverines took an early lead in the first half with a goal by Gannon, but could not pull away from the Monarchs (6-0 Colonial Athletic Association, 10-8) until Fronzoni’s breakaway goal in the beginning of the second half.
“Well it was a breakaway, so that was really fun and exciting,” Pankratz said. “She went in alone on the goalie and made a nice shot. Getting up 2-0 helped everyone settle in. It helped get everybody focused on their play instead of worrying about the outcome of the match.”
Fronzoni’s 65th goal made her the all-time career goal-scoring leader at Michigan, surpassing Mary Callam-Brandes (1976-79).
After Fronzoni’s goal, the Wolverines erupted for two more goals in the second half by junior Adrienne Hortillosa and Anneke Huntzicker to make it 4-0.
“We’ve just stuck with our game plan,” Pankratz said of the win over the Monarchs. “Every single player on our team really played well. They executed extraordinarily well. It was really fun.”
This upcoming week, the Wolverines have a tough home conference matchup against No. 7 Penn State. The game could decide who will take home the Big Ten regular-season title.
“We just have to prepare and work hard to get focused on Penn State,” Pankratz said. “We need to execute our basics. We need to stay focused on that instead of worrying about the outcome.”