EAST LANSING – Sloppy play is never a good thing in college soccer, especially when it comes in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament.

The Michigan women’s soccer team found out what pervasive sloppiness can do to Big Ten title hopes when it played Ohio State yesterday. Because of its disheveled play in the first half and its inability to finish in the second half, the Wolverines could only tie Ohio State at 1-1 at the end of regulation. After two scoreless sudden-death overtimes, the team lost in a shootout, putting its hope for an NCAA Tournament bid in question.

With four players already having taken their kicks, the two teams were deadlocked at two goals apiece. Midfielder Laura Tanchon stepped up for the Wolverines and struck the ball well, but Buckeye goalkeeper Emily Haynam made a diving save. Ohio State defender Jen Miller scored on the ensuing kick and sent the Wolverines packing.

It was obvious that the Wolverines were in a battle from the opening whistle. Ohio State came out strong, knowing that this game could be the last of its season. The Michigan defense looked confused at times, leading to several great scoring chances for the Buckeyes.

“They were aggressive and they played well,” Michigan coach Debbie Rademacher said. “(Ohio State was) obviously fired up for this game. For them to advance to the (NCAA) Tournament, they have to do well in here.”

Ohio State began the scoring on a goal by Heather Miller with 13:06 left in the first half. After a bad clearance inside the Michigan 18-yard box, Miller pounced on the ball and punched it in the right side of the net from eight yards away.

Michigan forward Abby Crumpton evened the score with 1:42 left in the first half. Andrea Kayal attempted a shot, but it went wide of the goal. Crumpton, who was in the right place at the right time, collected the missed shot and beat Haynam to the lower right corner of the goal.

Rademacher was quick to point out that in spite of the late goal by Crumpton, Ohio State still dominated the first half of play.

“They were just playing stronger (in the first half),” Rademacher said. “They won tackles, they won air balls, they were possessing the ball, and they were running us around. We did not get anyone to step up and win balls and be aggressive.”

Crumpton’s goal seemed to give the Wolverines a shot in the arm, and in the second half they looked like an entirely different group.

“I told them their first half was embarrassing,” Rademacher said. “You need to win games by action, not by talking about winning and what you’re going to do.”

Spurred on by Rademacher’s halftime speech, Michigan looked like it had something to prove. The Wolverines stepped up the physical level of play and began to win more 50-50 balls and dominate the time of possession.

“We can’t put two halves together,” Crumpton said. “We are a one-half team right now, and if we want to get further than the first round (of the NCAA Tournament) then we need to change that.”

The Wolverines are not guaranteed a bid into the NCAA Tournament. But with a regular season record of 13-5-1, they will most likely receive one.

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