After turning its season around with numerous one-goal victories
against top teams, the Michigan women’s soccer team succumbed
to No. 18 Connecticut 5-0 yesterday in the third round of the NCAA

Mira Levitan
Forward Katie Kramer earned Michigan its main scoring chance by drawing a foul at the top of the 18-yard box to start the second half. (SETH LOWERDaily)

The loss in Storrs, Conn., ended No. 24 Michigan’s
unpredictable season. Connecticut moves on to the round of eight
where it will play Brigham Young.

Connecticut (13-5-3) did not waste any time on offense. With
less than five minutes elapsed in the game, Connecticut’s
Jessica Gjersten sent a cross to teammate Brittany Barakat who
settled and placed the ball to the right of Michigan goalie Megan
Tuura. This was the first goal Michigan (11-8-6) allowed in its
three games in the NCAA tournament.

“I think after they scored that quick goal we lost our
composure a little,” coach Debbie Rademacher said.
“They put a lot of pressure on us from the start and that
goal rattled us.”

The pressure did not stop. Connecticut made the score 2-0 on a
goal with 19:04 remaining in the first half. Nikki Cross received a
pass from Kristen Graczyk and headed for the net on a breakaway.
Cross drew Tuura out of the goal and put a shot into the empty net.
Michigan was outshot 9-2 in the first half.

Michigan did play better right after the halftime break. Katie
Kramer took the opening kick of the second half and was fouled at
the top of Connecticut’s 18-yard box. Robyn Vince took the
ensuing kick and placed the ball into face of the goal, but
Connecticut goalie Erin Rice caught the ball and kept the
Wolverines off the scoreboard. Just seconds later Judy Coffman took
a ball up the left side, but she was thwarted by Rice again.

With only 20 minutes remaining, Connecticut put the game out of
reach with its third goal. Graczyk found Jennifer Sullivan, who put
a shot from the left side into the far corner of the net.

“We actually played a strong second-half,”
Rademacher said. “But once they scored that third goal we had
to push more players up, and when we did that, they got their final
two goals.”

This was the seventh straight year that Michigan made the NCAA
Tournament, and this sweet-16 run was Michigan’s second-best
performance in the tournament.

Only last year did Michigan fair better, when it reached the
round of eight.

Michigan has a lot to look forward to next year as most of its
regulars will be returning.

“We were young this year,” Rademacher said.
“We’re in good shape coming into next year. We’re
still looking for a Big Ten championship and were hoping to make
another run at the Final Four.

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