In a pair of home matches to wind down the season, the No. 12 Michigan field hockey team salvaged a weekend split.
Ohio State rolled into Ann Arbor for a Friday-afternoon contest, with the winner in prime position to take the Big Ten regular season by virtue of a head-to-head win.
The Buckeyes came in at 11-3 and 3-1 in the Big Ten, while Michigan was 10-5 and 4-0, meaning that the winner would be catapulted into the No. 1 spot in conference play.
The game started with a bang as freshman forward Rachel Mack hit streaking senior forward Zara Saydjari, who was denied by Buckeye goalie Ally Tunitis.
Offensive pressure from Ohio State early on led to two shots from point blank range, both stopped by freshman Wolverine keeper Haley Jones.
The first half ended in a 0-0 draw, as neither team could find much offense. The Buckeyes edged Michigan, 3-2, in both shots on goal and penalty corners.
Michigan came out more aggressively in the second, controlling the ball for the first 10 minutes of the half.
However, Ohio State’s constant pressure could not be stopped. At 51:38, the Buckeyes passed around a corner eventually landing in the stick of junior midfielder Aisling Coyle who put it in the back left corner of the cage.
Some sloppy passing and missed opportunities by the Wolverines did not help the cause and gave Ohio State yet another opportunity. With just over seven minutes left in the game, the Buckeyes struck again, widening the gap to 2-0.
Michigan proceeded with a rapid comeback attempt in the final seven minutes, but to no avail. A penalty stroke by senior midfielder Meredith Way with eight seconds left provided a glimmer of hope, but the game ended soon after in a 2-1 loss.
“There’s an awful lot to learn from not winning games,” Michigan coach Marcia Pankratz said.
Michigan learned its lesson quickly; following with a 2-0 win Sunday over UC-Davis.
The Wolverines began the game with offensive pressure on the Aggies. Familiar faces for Michigan provided the offense. Way missed on a few corner opportunities, while freshman forward Rachel Mack was denied just outside the goal on multiple occasions.
“At halftime, we talked about really posting up as forwards and finishing. We did a better job, because it was 0-0 at halftime, we came through with two goals,” junior midfielder Katie Adams said.
Four minutes into the second half, Adams — playing in her final home game as a Wolverine, tallied the first goal of the contest on a rebound from a corner.
“We had a lot of circle penetration, but … a lot of the time our shots are going wide or not on the goal,” Adams said.
Michigan finished the game with a total of 32 shots to UC Davis’s three. The Wolverines also compiled a substantial corner margin of 14-1, for a 2-0 victory.
“The team has been working really hard, putting ourselves in position to win the championship, and that where we are,” Pankratz said.
With the win on Sunday, the Wolverines protected Ocker Field to the tune of a 9-2 record this season. Michigan improves to 11-6 on the season, and sits in a first-place tie with Ohio State in the Big Ten at 4-1.