No. 1.

The title carries an aura of invincibility, yet vulnerability. The team carries itself with an outward confidence, as if they know they are the best, and opponents are intimidated when they set foot on the field. But No. 1 also walks around with a big bulls-eye painted in the middle of its jerseys. Every night, opponents bring their best effort to be the one to topple No. 1.

And this weekend, the women’s soccer team will have a chance to do just that.

The country’s top-ranked soccer team will show up at U-M Soccer Field on Friday night in the form of the Nittany Lions of Penn State, with whom the Wolverines have often competed for a Big Ten Championship and have a healthy rivalry.

Michigan is looking forward to the opportunity to take down the undefeated Nittany Lions and believes that having home field advantage is huge.

“All the pressure is really on them,” senior forward Therese Heaton said. “They are coming in with no losses and no ties. We have absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain.”

Heaton said it reminded her of playing Notre Dame two years ago at South Bend. The only difference, she said, was that this year’s game will be at home.

“We have a certain energy at home, so hopefully we can use that to carry us to a win,” she said.

Going into that game two years, the Fighting Irish were undefeated and ranked No. 2 in the country. They hosted the Wolverines in their final game of the regular season. But Michigan surprised everyone – except itself – and, when the clock was full of zeroes, it read 3-2 in favor of the Wolverines. The win ended Notre Dame’s bid for an undefeated season and cemented the Michigan’s spot in the NCAA Tournament.

So the Wolverines have some history ruining perfect seasons.

But in order to ruin Penn State’s, Michigan will need to focus a lot of attention and energy on stopping the Nittany Lion with the number eight on her back. Penn State senior forward Tiffany Weimer has been all but unstoppable this season. Last year, Weimer finished as the runner-up for the M.A.C. Hermann trophy – the most prestigious individual honor in intercollegiate soccer – and was named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year as well as a first-team NSCAA All-American. She currently has a streak of 15 games with at least one goal scored – good enough to tie Santa Clara alumna Brandi Chastain’s NCAA record – and will look to claim sole possession of the record tonight.

The responsibility of neutralizing Weimer will fall on the shoulders of the whole defense; the team has worked with many different strategies in practice to do just that.

A win would be more than just a confidence booster. With a record of 7-6-2, the Wolverines are still not assured an NCAA Tournament spot, and rankings within the Big Ten are important for the conference tournament. The team’s morale could also use a boost; they have lost several disappointing games this season, including one-goal losses within the Big Ten to Illinois, Wisconsin, Purdue and Indiana.

“If we beat Penn State, that would be huge,” Heaton said. “It would turn everything around and kind of be the starting point and kick us off for the postseason.”

Despite Penn State’s awe-inspiring record, the Wolverines are confident going into the game on Friday night.

“It’s really uncommon for any team to have the record they have,” Mulholland said. “I feel like it’s their time. They’re due.”

The Wolverines shocked the college soccer world once before.

They hope history repeats itself.

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