Winning both this weekend’s matches against No. 14 Northwestern and Yale to boost its overall record to 11-3, the No. 13 Michigan women’s field hockey team has been unstoppable lately.
After falling behind 2-0, Michigan managed to pull out a 3-2 win in an evenly matched game on Friday against Northwestern in double overtime, thanks to the winning goal from senior backfielder Bryn Bain.
“(Friday) was a great win for Michigan,” said Michigan coach Marcia Pankratz. “Northwestern is an outstanding team. They are fast, well-coached and are quite skilled. They have some impressive players that can single-handedly change the game. I was very, very proud of our team for gutting it out, getting us into overtime and executing under pressure.”
The defense even contained Northwestern senior midfielder Chelsea Armstrong, the reigning Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week. Armstrong did score the Wildcats’ only two goals in the first 10 minutes of the game, but a strong Wolverine defense kept her off the board for the remainder of the game.
Sophomore forward Rachael Mack and Bain led the offense with four and five shots on goal, respectively. The Wolverines did not manage to score until the second half, when sophomore midfielder Ainsley McCallister scored her first career goal, unassisted from the right to bring the score to 2-1.
Michigan continued its push by tying up the game 10 minutes later with a goal from freshman forward Emy Guttman and an assist from McCallister. Neither team could break the tie, taking the match into double overtime.
“I felt really good about the conditioning of our team,” Pankratz said. “They ran hard, even in overtime. I think we played sharper and executed under pressure.”
Both teams fired three shots on goal in the first overtime but couldn’t capitalize. The Wolverines kept the pressure on, and 55 seconds into the second overtime, Bain scored off a corner and clinched the victory for Michigan.
“Bryn had an outstanding game,” Pankratz said. “She really carried the team through overtime. I was happy for her scoring the winning goal. She deserved it.”
Senior goalkeeper Christi Barwick, who was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week, had three saves for the Wolverines, bringing her record to 6-1.
With less than 15 hours of rest, the Wolverines did not have much time to celebrate their close win. But Michigan came out strong the next day, scoring seven goals to beat Yale 7-1.
The Bulldogs scored the first goal of the game nine minutes in, but the dominant Wolverine defense held them scoreless for the rest of the game. McCallister scored the first goal for Michigan 22 minutes into the game to knot the game at one. That goal was followed by goals from Mack, Bain and freshman backfield Aline Fobe, who all scored within 12 minutes of each other to put the Wolverines up 4-1 at the end of the first half.
The Wolverines continued to command the match with a goal from freshman midfield Axelle Wauters. That was followed by a pair of goals from sophomore forward forward Michelle Roberts, bringing the final tally to 7-1.
“They focused and followed the game plan, fought through some very heavy legs,” said Pankratz. “We used every player on the team, a lot of rotation, it was a good team win.”
The Wolverine defense was lead by sophomore midfield Mallory Albini and redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Haley Jones, who had two saves in the win. Michigan capitalized on a 14-9 shooting advantage and a 7-3 corner advantage to secure the win over Yale.
On Sunday, Michigan will play in its “Stick it to Cancer” match for breast cancer awareness against Penn State. The Nittany Lions are first in the Big Ten standings, one place in front of Michigan.
“Last year we ended up beating Penn State twice, (so) I know they will be ready to come out and try to topple us,” Pankratz said. “We are the defending (Big Ten) champs, so I can appreciate that they are going to come with a lot of emotion to try and beat us. We are up for the challenge, hopefully we can play as sharp and as strong as we did this weekend.”