The Michigan women’s soccer team is on pace to give up its most shots on goal for a season since 2005.
Fortunately for the Wolverines, redshirt junior goalkeeper Haley Kopmeyer has made sure most of those shots have not found the back of her net.
Against Ohio State last Friday, Kopmeyer set the single-season record for most saves by a goalie when she recorded her 100th save of the season — becoming the first goalie with triple-digit saves in the program’s history.
“It’s a great accomplishment and it’s nice to have your name in the record books, but I look at it like this — if I didn’t make those saves, those shots would be goals,” Kopmeyer said. “It’s my job to make those saves. If I didn’t hold the record for most saves then I would have the record for most goals allowed.”
With 105 saves this season, Kopmeyer broke her previous record of 95 saves set two years ago. The record not only displays her superb ability to protect the net, but it also demonstrates her durability. She’s played in all 1,660 minutes of Michigan’s season.
With her fantastic play this season, Kopmeyer has cemented herself as one of the Big Ten’s best goalies. She ranks first in the conference in saves per game (5.83), second in save percentage (.840) and second in shutouts (6). She’s also earned two Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week awards.
“Haley’s played great,” said Michigan coach Greg Ryan. “Most of this year, she’s just been the backbone of the team, and I think the defense has played well in front of her. She’s come up with some really big saves that have kept us in games, so I’m really happy for Haley that she has this record, even though 100 saves means you’re giving up a lot of shots on goal.”
Kopmeyer also holds several other marks in the Michigan record books. She ranks first all-time in save percentage (.829), second in goals against average (1.09), third in shutouts (16) and third in saves (287).
YOUTHFUL EXPERIENCE: Michigan started the season with a young roster. With 18 underclassmen, the team was already tied for the second-most underclassmen in the Big Ten.
But with the addition of freshman goalkeeper Zaryn Jennings about a week ago, the Wolverines now have 11 freshmen on their roster compared to just three seniors.
With starters junior midfielder Holly Hein and sophomore midfielder Meghan Toohey out for the season, Ryan has been playing a younger lineup.
He has started freshman midfielder Chloe Sosenko in four of the last five contests, and she has responded with two assists since Toohey’s injury against Iowa three weeks ago. Ryan has also given freshman midfielder Jen Pace increased minutes of late. With recent walk-on and junior midfielder Emily Jaffe also injured this past weekend, Pace had her first two career starts against Ohio State and Penn State.
Though the Wolverines have struggled recently, Ryan has been impressed with his younger players.
“I was very pleased with a lot of our players today, especially the young ones,” Ryan said after Michigan lost 4-0 to the Nittany Lions. “It’s a bunch of young kids learning the hard way out there on the field. The main thing to take out of this is experience.”
HOME FUTILITY: Early in the season, Michigan appeared poised for another excellent year at home.
After losing its first home game of the season to Akron, Michigan played well in its subsequent four games at the Michigan Soccer Stadium, reeling off consecutive wins and starting the season with an impressive 4-1-0 mark at home.
But the Wolverines’ success at home swiftly turned into misery. They lost their final three games in Ann Arbor, concluding their 2011 home schedule with a disappointing record of 4-5-1 — winless at home since a Sept. 9 victory over Western Michigan.
Michigan’s frustrating home record can be pinned on its inability to find the back of the net. The Wolverines haven’t scored a goal at home in more than a month — a span of four games, dating back to their 3-2 loss to Minnesota on Sept. 23.
The Wolverines were 6-1-2 at home last year and 4-2-4 the year before.
JOCKEYING FOR POSITION: Currently sitting seventh in the Big Ten with a 4-5-1 conference record, Michigan will lock down a bid to the Big Ten Tournament with a victory over Illinois in its regular season finale.
Just the top eight teams in the conference make the tournament. Unfortunately for the Wolverines, 12th-place Northwestern gets an automatic bid due to hosting, so Michigan will have to finish within the top seven teams.
Along with the Wolverines, five other teams — Iowa, Minnesota, Ohio State, Nebraska, and Purdue — will be competing for the last three spots into the tournament. The six teams are all within two points of each other.