After scoring just eight goals in its first six games, there were certainly some questions about the offense of the Michigan field hockey team.
But those questions were immediately put to rest as the fourth-ranked Wolverines (1-0 Big Ten, 6-2 overall) drilled Massachusetts and Indiana 6-0 and 10-1, respectively, this past weekend at Ocker Field.
“I told you the offense would come around,” coach Marcia Pankratz said.
In yesterday”s game against Indiana (0-1, 0-6), the Wolverines received goals from seven different players, led by sophomore defender Stephanie Johnson, who recorded her first career hat-trick.
“Our team has the mindset to always look to score,” Johnson said. “We are very scrappy and try to put the ball in any way we can.”
Michigan”s 10 goals represents a season-high and the most since the 1998 season when it steamrolled past Central Michigan, 11-0.
Senior goalkeeper Maureen Tasch nearly earned her sixth shutout of the season, which would have doubled her entire total from last year.
Indiana forward Ryan Wooley took advantage of a defensive breakdown by the Wolverines to score the lone Hoosier goal.
In the game against Massachusetts (2-3), a 30 minute rain delay before the game added to Michigan”s anticipation of returning to competition after nearly two weeks off.
“It”s good practice to handle adversity, and focus on what we were doing,” Pankratz said. “We went on to play and not worry about all the things we can”t control. It was good practice for us.”
Once the game finally began, the Wolverines dominated the flow of the game and kept the pressure in the Minutewomen end. For the first five minutes of the game, Michigan allowed no shots on goal, while managing to pummel Massachusetts”s goalie Ashley Egland with five quick shots.
Early in the game, the pressure became too much. Sophomore defender Kristi Gannon scored off a penalty corner, blasting the ball from the top of the circle past Egland.
The Minutewomen goalie wasn”t out of the woods yet. Ten minutes later, Molly Powers received a cross-field pass and ran down on a break away. Egland managed to stack the pads and make a great save, and then proceeded to stop several rebounds.
“We have been waiting to play, and we just wanted to get out and play a great game of hockey,” Powers said. The forward added a tally in the second half. “The rain delay gave us a chance to go back in, focus again, and I don”t think it hurt us at all.”
Massachusetts couldn”t seem to get anything going after the first goal. With the ball in its half of the field for most of the game, they only produced one shot in the first half. While Michigan”s offense was putting up numerous shots on Egland, Tasch had quiet an afternoon behind the net for the Wolverines. Tasch only had to deal with four shots on goal from the Minutewomen, but the saves she made were impressive.
“A couple [of shots] created some pressure, but our defense broke them down before they got to me,” Tasch said.
With the victory, Tasch earned her fifth shut out of the season.
Tasch”s biggest threat was a Massachusetts penalty corner in the second half. Only two minutes in, the Mintuewomen assembled its players around the circle. Once the pass came in, all players charged the net, which resulted in chaos in front of the goal. The initial shot deflected off Tasch”s pads, leaving several rebounds for the Massachusetts forwards. Tasch managed to turn away numerous whacks and the defense advanced the ball out of harm”s way.
The Wolverines” offense had opportunities all game long. The team finished with 28 shots on goal and 11 penalty corners. Senior defender Catherine Foreman had three assists on converted penalty corners and four for game.
“It”s good [that the corner is scoring] because we”ve worked on our corners a lot, and we”ve been working on earning them,” Foreman said. “Now the corner team has finally pulled our weight and put some in.”
Michigan will continue its Big Ten season this Friday when the Iowa Hawkeyes invade Ann Arbor for a 3 p.m. showdown, then the team travels to Muncie, Ind. for a non-conference match-up with the Ball State Cardinals on Sunday.