After three straight blowouts, the No. 3 Michigan field hockey team finally faced a challenge, and it responded with the resolve typical of a defending national champion.
Senior Molly Powers scored the game winner in overtime off a beautiful assist from Jessica Rose, clinching a 2-1 come-from- behind-victory over Connecticut yesterday at Ocker Field. The win was Michigan’s fourth straight, and it gave the Wolverines (5-1) a weekend sweep in the Big Ten/Big East Challenge following their 6-2 onslaught of No. 14 Boston College on Saturday.
“I’m really proud of our team,” coach Marcia Pankratz said. “It was an adverse game – Connecticut played really well. They had a great defense, and their goalie made some wonderful saves.”
The Michigan offense was relentless throughout the entire game, applying constant pressure and peppering Huskies’ goalkeeper Maureen Butler with 25 shots. But an outstanding performance by Butler, coupled with a stingy Connecticut defense, prevented Michigan from finding the back of the net.
The game remained scoreless until the second half, when the Huskies mounted a strong counterattack, and Lauren Henderson took advantage of a breakaway. With the Michigan defense trailing behind her, Henderson faked out Wolverine goalkeeper Molly Maloney and fired a strike into the back of the cage with just under 15 minutes remaining.
“Those are the breaks of the game,” Pankratz said. “We had three missed tackles – hopefully we won’t have that again. We’re a very attacking team, and I feel that we’re such a good scoring team that I’m not really worried about one goal here or there.”
Following a Connecticut timeout, Michigan responded with the game on the line and finally beat Butler. Junior Stephanie Johnson rifled a bullet off a penalty-corner set from sophomore Adrienne Hortillosa, which deflected off a defender’s stick into the back of the net.
The goal rejuvenated the Wolverines, who continued their offensive barrage against Butler as regulation came to a close.
In overtime, Michigan survived an early Connecticut breakaway, when Husky forward Kelly Cochrane was unable to convert on a wide-open net. Just minutes later, Rose corralled the ball at midfield and stormed through the Connecticut defense. With Powers streaking ahead, Rose launched a perfect pass and let her teammate do the rest. Powers shrugged off Butler, who was out of position, and lifted a beautiful shot into the open net.
Rose “did a great job of cutting the ball on an angle to make the defender commit,” Powers said. “I just went to the open passing lane, and she gave me a great ball with perfect pace, so I could take it on the move and never have to slow my stride down.”
Rose used her fresh legs to engineer the final score.
“I wasn’t in for the first five minutes of overtime,” Rose said. “When I came in, I knew all I had to do was just run hard. I saw some of my teammates lagging a bit, so I tried to pull a little more weight.”