The women’s soccer team needed a win over Iowa on Sunday in the worst way.
With a matchup against the No. 1 team in the country – Penn State – and important conference games against Minnesota and perennial rival Michigan State looming, the Wolverines viewed their game at Iowa Soccer Complex as a must-win.
And it showed.
In their final road game of the year, the Wolverines immediately jumped on top of the Hawkeyes (0-4-2 Big Ten, 2-9-4 overall), and they never let up.
Michigan (3-4-0, 7-6-2) scored two goals in the first 25 minutes of the game, added two more in the first 20 minutes of the second half, and only allowed a late goal to come away with the 4-1 win.
“(This win) is huge for us,” coach Debbie Rademacher said. “We really need these next four games. Certainly with playing Penn State on Friday, this is a good build-up to it. We want a chance to knock off the first team in the country, and we’re excited to be able to do that at home.”
Michigan has relied on its heavy hitters for scoring all year, and that didn’t change at all against Iowa, against whom the Wolverines have never lost. Leading the team in shots, points, assists and goals, sophomore Melissa Dobbyn added to her totals Sunday, recording a goal and an assist on three shots. Senior Therese Heaton – currently second on the team in points, goals and assists – added a goal and two assists on three shots. And junior Judy Coffman – second on the team in shots and third in points and goals – put in two goals on her only two shots of the game.
“They are the key to our offensive attack,” Rademacher said. “People know about them, and they are being marked tight, but they are finding ways to put in goals.”
Dobbyn opened the scoring at 12:42. Heaton crossed the ball, and Dobbyn was able to control it behind the Iowa defense, leading to a one-on-one with Iowa goalkeeper Erin MacIsaac.
Boasting the best range on the team, Dobbyn blasted the ball into the back of the net to put the Wolverines up 1-0. With her 10th goal of the year, Dobbyn bested last year’s total of nine goals.
Coffman followed with a goal of her own at 23:27. She was taken down inside the 18-yard box, resulting in a penalty kick that she put past MacIsaac for a 2-0 lead that the Wolverines held going into the half.
But Michigan did not let up in the second half either. At 56:52, Heaton took a pass from Dobbyn and was able to beat MacIsaac from the top of the 18-yard box to extend the lead to 3-0. And less than six minutes later, Coffman tallied her second goal of the contest off an assist from Heaton. It marked Coffman’s first career two-goal game, and for Heaton, her four-point game marked the second time this season she has accomplished the feat, with a hat-trick against Western Michigan earlier in the year.
The Wolverines could not complete the shutout though. Iowa was able to score at 72:10 on a goal from leading scorer Stephanie Hyink that rocketed past freshman goalkeeper Madison Gates.
“All the scouts on them say that their attack is the most dangerous part of their team,” Rademacher said. “They’re a team that you just want to be sure you never let back in the game and never quit.”
Aggressive from the start, Michigan never even let Iowa in the game. Junior goalkeeper Megan Tuura pitched a shutout for the 70 minutes that she played. She recorded three saves and picked up her fifth win of the year, and the defense was solid from start to finish.
“I thought we played really well,” Rademacher said. “We tackled well, we did well in the air, and we were able to win 50-50 balls, which are all things we focused on before the game.”
Michigan’s weekend did not go unblemished though because they could not hold a 2-1 lead on Friday night at Illinois Soccer Stadium against the Fighting Illini.
Dobbyn and freshman Danelle Underwood scored less than four minutes apart in the first half for the lead.
Fighting back, the Illini tallied two goals in the first five minutes of the second half and held the Wolverines scoreless for the remainder of the game to capture a 3-2 win.