Two times this weekend, with different results, the Michigan women”s soccer team got out to an early 1-0 lead.
While the Wolverines were able to pull out a victory over Dayton yesterday, on Friday, Kentucky came back to win 2-1.
After the loss to Kentucky, yesterday”s game was the Wolverines” chance for redemption. The match against Dayton was a challenge due to weather conditions. The pounding rain made visibility tough for almost five to ten minutes before the game was suspended due to lightning with just over 22 minutes remaining in the contest.
The adverse weather conditions didn”t keep Michigan from winning its first game, this time holding onto a 1-0 lead and riding that goal until the end of the game.
Yesterday, Michigan set the precedent for a physical game from the very beginning. On the opening kick, a Dayton player ended up on the ground after losing the fight for the first pass.
Dayton proved to be ready for the challenge of a physical game by trying to control the tempo. The Flyers built every run from the backs with unselfish passing. After 10 minutes of play, the Wolverines did not have a shot on goal while Dayton had been on the attack with two.
But the Wolverines snapped out of their run of ineffective play and started to do what they are best at creating offensive attacks. At 24:26 fullback Amy Sullivant made a great shot that tested the abilities of the Flyers” goalie. Laurie Peterson followed that by barely missing over the crossbar with her shot. Finally, with 10:45 left in the half, Michigan capitalized on its efforts with head ball by Andrea Kayal. The goal due largely to an accurate penalty kick by Sullivant.
Down 1-0 after the game delay in the second half, the Flyers” seemed to sense the urgency. Dayton”s Jen Simonetti and Beth McHugh fired two close-range shots that came dangerously close to going by Michigan goalie Bre Bennett.
In the home opener Friday night, the women”s soccer team broke through the suffocating Kentucky defense early in the game. With 13:24 remaining in the first half, freshman Kate Morgan scored the first goal of her college career.
The goal capped 30 minutes of outstanding physical play in the first half. The Wildcats had jumped to No. 24 in the NSCAA/adidas coaches poll because of their physical and aggressive style of play. The Wolverines matched Kentucky”s physical prowess by contesting every open ball in the air.
“I”m proud of how our team challenged Kentucky in the air,” head coach Debbie Rademacher said.” Laurie Peterson and Carly Williamson stepped up and were very physical in the midfield.”
But then an old problem reappeared when the Wolverines” outstanding play in the first half quickly became stagnant. The Wildcats controlled the game as Michigan chased the ball trying to regain control. With 1:15 left in the first half, Kathy Fulk scored for Kentucky.
Not only was Fulk”s goal a momentum breaker, but the frustration on the field could be felt from the stands. As Fulk walked back to the midfield, she gestured to the Wildcats” fans with her arms in the air and her hands beckoning to the Michigan players with bravado.
It was a prophetic gesture that Kentucky was now going to control the remainder of the game.
Riding off of the adrenaline of Fulk”s goal, Kentucky”s second score came early in the second half. The Wildcats” Annie Gage took a corner kick at 34:14 in the second half that found the head of Alli Haeussler in the box. It was the second game winner Haeussler had scored in three games, proving that she was Kentucky”s go-to woman under pressure.
Despite the two goals scored by the Wildcats, keeper Bennett played a great game for the Wolverines. At the 13:20 mark, Kentucky broke away from the Michigan defense only to be stopped cold by Bennett”s diving stop to the left.
Had the Wildcats scored the goal late in the game, Michigan”s chances to come back would have been nearly eliminated.
“This game was disappointing, but we”ll be back,” said Bennett. “We played well in the backfield and we were ready for the quickness of Kentucky”s forwards since Cal and Loyola were both quick upfront.”
“We had flashes of good soccer, but once again we were snake-bit by crucial mistakes,” said Rademacher.