The ability to counterattack can prove devastating in water polo.

And in the season-opening Michigan Kick-Off, the No. 13 Michigan water polo team used the tactic to its full potential. Michigan’s style of play propelled it to four wins, including a 12-5 over Marist on Saturday afternoon and a 12-7 victory over rival Indiana later that night.

Against the Hoosiers, Michigan came out with energy in the highly anticipated match-up.

The Wolverines would have to wait to display that energy because the previous game at Canham Natatorium (between Colorado State and Marist) went into four overtimes. When the contest started 30 minutes late, it took sophomore Julie Hyrne just 26 seconds to give Michigan the lead, which it would never relinquish.

Two minutes later, freshman Leah Robertson scored on the counterattack that would be the Wolverines’ calling card all weekend. The two teams then traded goals, and Michigan headed to the locker room leading at halftime 5-4. But it was in the second half that Michigan showed just how devastating a good transition from offense to defense can be.

Driver Mary Chatigny scored two counterattack goals in the third quarter that broke the game open. The five-goal margin was the second largest in the past 25 contests played between the two schools. Michigan now leads the all-time series, 20-4-1.

On day two, the Wolverines were once again successful, posting wins against Colorado State and California-Santa Cruz, 15-8 and 15-10, respectively.

The counterattack started with Wolverine goalie Kristen Davis. Her strong play in net garnered her CWPA All-Division First-Team honors as a freshman last season, and she didn’t miss a beat this weekend. Her superb passing skills allow Michigan to use its superior athleticism and turn a defensive stop into offensive fireworks.

Senior captain Shana Welch, who had eight points on day one and a six-goal effort against the Rams, led Michigan offensively.

“Our team strengths are that we are quick and fast,” Welch said.

That speed was the primary reason why the Wolverines were able to dominate on both sides of the pool.

“We have athletes and speed, and we are using that combination to spring our counterattack,” Michigan coach Matt Anderson said.

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