With just eight minutes left to play, freshman Melissa Dobbyn
scored her first goal in over a month to lift the Michigan
women’s soccer team to a 1-0 win over No. 25 Wisconsin in
yesterday’s opening round of the Big Ten Tournament in
Columbus.

The win was the Wolverines’ first step toward qualifying
for the NCAA Tournament.

The duo of Dobbyn and junior Therese Heaton —
Michigan’s two leading scorers — came out of their
late-season scoring slump at just the right time. Heaton timed a
pass into the Wisconsin box to Dobbyn, who fired the ball past
goalkeeper Lynn Murray from 12 yards out.

“We need (Heaton and Dobbyn) to score,” Michigan
coach Debbie Rademacher said. “It has shown this entire
season that, when those two are able to assist or put one in, then
we come out on the winning side.”

After the goal, Michigan (7-3-1 Big Ten, 12-7-2 overall) had to
rely on its defense — including two of its second-team
All-Big Ten players, goalkeeper Megan Tuura and defender Brenna
Mulholland — to seal the win. Tuura turned in her seventh
shutout of the season, while Rademacher credited Mulholland with a
strong effort on the back line.

“The last five minutes, they were just down our
throats,” Rademacher said. “After the goal, they put
another forward up top. We still held pretty strong, but the last
five minutes were pretty hectic. They were getting the ball in our
end and bringing us under a lot of pressure.”

Michigan thought it had taken the lead in the first half when
freshman All-Big Ten midfielder Jamie Artsis headed home a rebound
off a corner just 16 minutes into the game. But the goal was called
back when the referee called a pushing foul on Artsis.

The Wolverines went into halftime confident after controlling
much of the first half, which was slowed by heavy rain.

With the rain gone, a back-and-forth game developed in the
second half in which both teams were able to create scoring
chances.

Tuura recorded just two saves in the game, but both thwarted
good scoring chances in which Wisconsin sent the ball deep into
Michigan’s box.

Heaton narrowly missed on a crossing pass in the 56th minute, as
no Wolverine was able to reach the ball. It rolled just a few feet
in front of the post.

Yesterday’s win was important for Michigan’s chance
of making the 64-team NCAA Tournament field. After a disappointing
3-7-1 record in October, the Wolverines may need to earn an
automatic bid by winning the Big Ten Tournament.

“This was a great win for us,” Rademacher said.
“The team is very fired up and very motivated after the
win.”

Michigan can’t afford to enjoy the victory for long as it
turns around to play No. 13 Ohio State at 7 p.m. tonight —
the tournament’s No. 2 seed. The Wolverines and Buckeyes tied
their only contest this season, 1-1, on Oct. 3 in Ann Arbor.

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