Just two days after she became the Michigan women’s soccer career leader in shots, senior Melissa Dobbyn had just one thought running through her head as she took her 306th attempt on net.
“Please don’t miss.”
Dobbyn got her wish. The Livonia native hit the back of the net and gave the Wolverines (1-4-3 Big Ten, 2-8-4 overall) a much-needed 2-1 win over Wisconsin Sunday at the U-M Soccer Field.
Dobbyn’s tally with 11 minutes left snapped a nine-game winless streak and sparked the Wolverines in their first conference win of the season.
“(We feel) so relieved,” Dobbyn said. “We haven’t won in a while, so it felt great just to put two goals in the game. We haven’t done that in a while either, so it was a good accomplishment.”
Senior Sarah Banco opened the Wolverines’ scoring in the 13th minute. Setting up just to the left corner of the goal box, Banco launched a shot toward the far post and past the outstretched hands of Badger goalie Jamie Klages.
The goal was the first for the Wolverines in 469 minutes of play, a span of two losses and two scoreless ties. Michigan’s last goal, also tallied by Banco, came in a 1-1 tie against Indiana Oct. 4.
On Friday against Northwestern, Dobbyn broke the all-time career shots record previously held by first-year assistant coach Abby Crumpton. Despite her effort, neither Dobbyn nor her teammates could score in a 0-0 tie. Needing a win to keep Michigan’s postseason hopes alive, Dobbyn had no intention of letting her team come away empty handed again.
“She gets it done,” Banco said. “She’s a big-time player. . I know it was a sense of accomplishment for her and a relief to score her first (conference) goal. Now more are going to come for her. I know it.”
Tied at one, the Wolverines attacked in Wisconsin territory when they momentarily lost possession. But junior Kristin Thomas quickly regained control of the ball and noticed Dobbyn streaking down the right side of the field. The pass hit Dobbyn in stride, and she fired a shot that went into the back left corner of the goal.
Yesterday’s win gives the Wolverines three crucial points in conference play and keeps their postseason tournament hopes alive. The top eight teams advance to the conference tournament, and before the victory, the Wolverines were one spot out from qualifying.
Michigan needed to break free from its offensive struggles against Northwestern and Wisconsin, two teams in the bottom half of the conference. But on Friday, the Wolverines couldn’t score against the Wildcats despite seven corner kicks and 19 shots. Captain Lindsey Cottrell was visibly upset following the game.
“The numbers are there, we just need to finish,” she said. “It does get frustrating. It’s really discouraging, but we need to just keep shooting and keep pounding away.”
Michigan responded with 13 total shots and six corners against the Badgers, once again providing plenty of opportunities to break the team’s scoreless streak.
Prior to her game-winning goal Sunday, Dobbyn hit the crossbar on a shot from seven yards outside of the goal box.
Earlier in the second half, Amanda Bowery also had a prime scoring opportunity when she had a breakaway along the right side of the field, but her shot was denied on a sprawling save by Klages.
And not long after Banco’s opening goal, senior Emily Kalmach was denied by Klages when she punched the shot up and over the net.
“We’ve had a lot of games where we’ve outshot teams,” Banco said. “We’re getting six, seven corner kicks a game so we weren’t tense. We were just ready to come out and play.”
Following the weekend’s action, Michigan trails Northwestern by two points for the final spot in the postseason tournament. The Wolverines have two more conference games to play and the Wildcats have three.
Should Michigan miss the tournament, it’d be the first time in the program’s 14-year history.