As the Michigan women”s soccer team took the field against Illinois Friday, they appeared to be sleep-walking, not fully aware that the game was about to begin. The Fighting Illini took advantage of the Wolverines” lackadaisical play to score the most important goal of the game just 55 seconds into the first half off a corner kick by freshman Christine Sinak.
By the time the Wolverines snapped out of their trance, it was too late.
“We weren”t game ready and they caught us a bit off guard,” assistant coach Scott Forrester said after the 2-1 loss. “The game lasts from when the whistle blows to begin the game until the last second. We have to be ready for every minute.”
Junior forward Abby Crumpton netted a goal for the Wolverines at 8:41 into the first half off of an assist by junior Andrea Kayal to tie the game. Crumpton”s goal continued her five-game scoring streak.
After the goal by Crumpton, Michigan seemed unable to find the back of the net. The scoring drought was not caused by a stagnant offense Michigan had seven shots but the problem was merely finishing on the chances Michigan had in the second half.
Illinois was held scoreless in the second half by a Michigan team that blanked 10 opponents during the regular season. Second team All-Big Ten goalie Suzie Grech came up with the ball on two heart-stopping saves that kept Michigan”s hopes alive in the second half.
“We were hoping to use the wind to our advantage in the second half,” Forrester said. “That didn”t happen and it ended up hurting us in overtime.”
As Michigan battled against the wind, Illinois freshman Tara Hurless scored the winning goal of the game with 19 seconds left on the clock.
“At the beginning of the overtime period we had three great opportunities to put it away,” Forrester said. “We didn”t capitalize on them and didn”t see any other opportunities the rest of the game.”
The game was a bit of dj vu for the Wolverines as Illinois beat them 2-1 in overtime earlier in the season.
The loss knocked the Wolverines out of the Big Ten Tournament, but all is not lost on the season since the NCAA Tournament is around the corner. Michigan is ranked No. 20 in the nation by the NSCAA coaches poll and has a good chance of earning one of the 64 bids which will be announced today.
With Honors: Four Wolverines were announced as All-Big Ten selections at a banquet in West Lafayette on Thursday night. Crumpton and junior defender Amy Sullivant made the All-Big Ten First Team. Grech and junior defender Carly Williamson were honored as Second Team All-Big Ten.
“These four worked very hard to earn their honors, and I would like to have seen one or two more of our players who have had outstanding seasons on there,” Forrester said.