It may only be early September, but don’t tell that to the No. 18 Michigan women’s soccer team.
The Wolverines, displaying the type of team chemistry that usually takes months to forge, used a combination of physical defense and a heads-up play to get past Brigham Young, 2-1 yesterday at the Michigan Soccer Field.
“This win was huge,” Michigan coach Debbie Rademacher said. “We are so committed right now to getting a good start, and that is exactly what’s going on.”
After Brigham Young – which upset No. 4 Portland earlier this week – got on the board 12 minutes into the game on a goal by All-American Aleisha Cramer-Rose, Michigan (2-0) fought back four minutes into the second half, when junior Stephanie Chavez knocked in a header off a Carly Williamson free kick to knot the score.
With the score still tied in the middle of the second half, a smart play by senior forward Abby Crumpton made the difference for Michigan.
Going after a long ball down the right side of the field 10 yards outside of the box, Brigham Young goaltender Amanda Gott couldn’t keep the ball inbounds as she tried to clear it out of the Cougar’s zone.
As Gott tried to race back to her goal, Crumpton took the ball off a throw-in from Erika Kleinholz and alertly fired into the empty net to give Michigan a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
“I’m just glad I was able to put it in,” Crumpton said of her third goal this season. “It was a real smart play because the team was able to capitalize on the throw-in.”
Crumpton almost added a second goal on the day, but her shot with six minutes left in the game hit the post and was cleared by a Brigham Young defender.
To many of the Wolverines, the victory over Brigham Young was a major step for the team so early in the season.
“I’m so excited about this win,” defender Andre Kayal said. “When you know you can beat a team like this, that is a big boost of confidence. The last few years we haven’t won our early games and now we are headed in the right direction.”
Rademacher, too, was impressed with the team’s overall effort.
“We have had some really strong second-half efforts this year and that is encouraging,” said Rademacher. “I thought last week against Florida we came out stronger in the second half and that was the same today. We let up a bad goal early on but we got it back.”
The Wolverines will look to carry over their enthusiasm next week as they take on Western Michigan on Friday and Eastern Michigan on Sunday. Both games are at the Michigan Soccer Field.
“We know Western Michigan has a lot of speed and we know that Eastern is a very physical team,” Rademacher said.
The Wolverines defeated both Western Michigan (4-1) and Eastern Michigan (4-0) during the spring exhibition season.