That has been the difference for the Michigan women’s soccer team in its last five games.
After going 1-3 in their last four, the Wolverines (6-5-2 overall) are 2-3 in Big Ten play heading into their final five contests before the Big Ten Tournament.
But these numbers fail to tell the whole story. Michigan beat No. 4 Virginia in its first preseason game and went on to tie both No. 20 Texas A&M and then-No. 23 Kansas earlier this season. And the Wolverines defeated Ohio State 4-3 on Sept. 23 and Northwestern 3-2 last Friday.
“We certainly proved that we can compete with the best teams,” coach Debbie Rademacher said. “We played well against Ohio State, and Northwestern was a hard fought win. So we certainly have a team that can compete with the best. We just need to put it together every week, consistently.”
As the Wolverines look ahead at playing four of the top-five teams in the Big Ten, they’re working on ways to make sure they put it together and come out on top. In order to do that, Michigan will have to step on the field and play with intensity against highly physical opponents. Wisconsin committed 21 fouls in its 2-1 victory over the Wolverines on Sunday, and Indiana fouled Michigan 19 times on its way to a 2-1 win on Sept. 30.
“We do a lot of competing in practice, and that’s going to be our theme for the week – just to compete,” Rademacher said. “It’s not so much the fouling as the physical presence and winning tackling and 50-50 balls and getting to balls before the other team.”
According to Rademacher, the Wolverines’ front three has been their biggest asset so far this season.
Sophomore Melissa Dobbyn, junior Judy Coffman and senior Therese Heaton have combined for 18 of Michigan’s 25 goals. The trio has also added 11 assists for the Wolverines.
But if the Wolverines want to put themselves in good position going into the Big Ten Tournament, they’re going to have to tighten things up all over the field.
“Every single player out there has an opportunity to step it up because it’s not just one thing,” Rademacher said. “Turnovers come from all over the field. So if we could just put together a complete 90 minute game.”
With five games to go, the Wolverines still have a lot to hope for in postseason play. Notching wins against the top Big Ten teams will be crucial if Michigan wants to earn a good seed for the Big Ten Tournament which will be held Nov. 3-6 in Ann Arbor .
Rademacher will continue to look at the stats, scrutinize film and do everything in her power to make certain the Wolverines win the ball in the middle of the field, make the big defensive stops and put that one goal in the back of their opponents’ nets.