Wake Forest is becoming a thorn in the Michigan field hockey team’s side.
For the second straight year, the Demon Deacons handed the Wolverines their first loss of the season, recording a 2-0 shutout during the ACC/Big Ten Challenge in Chapel Hill this past weekend. The loss gave the Wolverines a weekend split after they beat North Carolina 2-0 on Saturday.
Michigan (1-1), the defending national champion, has now lost three straight to Wake Forest since its thrilling 3-2 double-overtime victory in the first round of the 1999 NCAA tournament.
The Wolverines had numerous opportunities to score against Wake Forest goalkeeper Katie Ridd, but they were unable to take advantage of 10 shots and five penalty corners.
“We got off a lot of shots, but we just didn’t finish in the circle,” senior forward Molly Powers said. “It was very similar to our opener against them last year when we lost a tough one in overtime.”
The Demon Deacons clung to a precarious 1-0 lead for nearly the entire game, until Heather Auginbaugh sealed the win with a rebound score on Michigan goaltender Molly Maloney just before the final minute.
Despite the tough loss, playing against a perennial power like Wake Forest early in the season will make Michigan a stronger team.
“It definitely sets the tempo for the rest of the season and gives us a high standard so we know what we need to work on,” Powers said.
North Carolina, another field hockey powerhouse, suffered its first-ever home loss to Michigan as the Wolverines improved their all-time record against the Tar Heels to 2-5.
Junior forward April Fronzoni provided all the scoring for Michigan, falling just one goal shy of her second straight hat trick against North Carolina.
“I think our team chemistry is great right now because of the new system,” Fronzoni said. “The defenders and midfielders did a great job of getting the ball to the forwards.”
Michigan’s new system is a 4-4-2 line formation, in which the defenders and midfielders can get the ball to the forwards, allowing the Wolverines to use their speed as a weapon.
The Wolverines will now return to Ann Arbor for a nine-game homestand. Michigan’s only other match this year 1-0 exhibition contest against the U.S. national team. Kristi Gannon, the Wolverines’ No. 2 scorer from a year ago, put in the lone Team USA goal to beat her alma mater.
“It was more of a friendly match,” Powers said. “Kristi is always a tough competitor, and it was inspiring to see a former teammate on the national team. It shows where your hard work can lead.”