Though senior day for the Michigan field hockey team did not end with a win, it was quite a memorable game. After beating Iowa 2-1 on Friday, No. 11 Michigan (3-3 Big Ten, 12-7 overall) lost to No. 16 Louisville (14-6 overall) 3-2 in overtime.

The Wolverines started the game with intensity, keeping possession of the ball and constantly pressuring the Louisville defense. Just 58 seconds into the match, Michigan took a 1-0 lead on a goal by senior forward Katie Morris.

“It was an insertion from the top,” Morris said. “Someone else initially shot it, and a rebound came out. It was just laying there, and I caught the goalie off-guard. It was a lucky shot, just a quick shot over the goalie.”

Goalie Beth Riley appeared impenetrable until Louisville finally broke through at 15:24 with a goal from sophomore forward Casey Diener. Riley had strayed far from the cage to challenge a shooter, and Diener was able to snag a rebound and slip it behind the Michigan keeper.

Louisville took a 2-1 lead at 29:54 on a goal from junior forward Carrie Jackson which was strangely similar to the team’s first score. But with just two minutes left in the half, junior forward Mary Fox equalized for Michigan.

Fox, who had taken all the corners for Michigan, had just taken another. After a few passes near the top of the circle, junior defender Kara Lentz passed to Fox at the right side of the goal. Fox shot the ball in to tie the game at 2-2.

Despite out-cornering Louisville throughout the game, Michigan was unable to convert on any other corner opportunities. The game went to six-on-six overtime. Still tied 2-2 and with only about two minutes left, Louisville’s Jessica Javelet scored to win the game, flicking the ball over Riley’s head and into the cage.

“If you look at our penalty corners and their penalty corners, we just didn’t finish our opportunities,” Michigan coach Nancy Cox said. “You have 14 corners to their three, and you’re counting on converting, at the minimum, 30 percent of your corners. We didn’t get the job done on our penalty corner opportunities, and that was the difference in the game. We made it much harder on ourselves today than we needed to. We should have won that game.”

Though Michigan easily could have ended the regular season with a win, Louisville earned their victory on Sunday.

“You have to give credit to the Louisville kids,” Cox said. “They played back-to-back – they played Iowa (Saturday) and Michigan (Sunday). Those kids have the mentality that it doesn’t matter who their foe is, they’re going to step out and win the match. They finished their opportunities, and we didn’t finish ours, and that was the difference.”

Before the match, there was a ceremony for the team’s five seniors: Lori Hillman, Nicole Lonsway, Lauren MacMillan, Katie Morris and Catherine Pickard. But senior day itself may have worked against Michigan.

“It was really emotional for our athletes,” Cox said. “I wish we could just eliminate that because it’s a lot for athletes to absorb.”

Morris confirmed the significance of senior day, but didn’t think it played a big role in the match.

“Walking out on the turf and realizing it’s the last time they’re calling your name out here – it’s hard,” Morris said. “But the minute the whistle blows it’s just another game. We had a lot of fun pregame, and emotions were running a little high. But I’m really proud of the effort of all the seniors today.”

The Wolverines are now confidently looking forward to the Big Ten Tournament next weekend.

“Our kids know how to win closely contested matches,” Cox said. “What we really need to focus on improving this week is our ability to finish. If the ball’s sitting on your doorstep, it’s your job, as an attacker, (to score). That’s what we need to take away into practice.”

Among the players, the recent improvement in play and ability to deal with adversity has them optimistic about their chances in the tournament.

“Our defense is winning games for us now,” Morris said. “I think people are finally getting comfortable in their positions. You know where your teammates are now – I think that was evident in our passing patterns today. We’re excited to go into the tournament. We had a little adversity, but we’re still as confident as ever.”

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