Friday’s game against James Madison was the first time this season that the Michigan field hockey team had a last-minute chance to come away with a win.
As the team entered sudden death overtime despite being down 3-0 at halftime, senior captain Meredith Way was determined to make her team’s comeback count. Feeding off of a corner pass from freshman Rachael Mack, Way wound up and sent the ball to the back of net, upsetting No. 14 JMU, 4-3, and giving Michigan (2-4) its first win of the season.
“It’s my senior year home opener,” Way said. “We’re all tired. It’s overtime. I played the whole game, and it’s like, ‘Just go in.’ ”
Way’s wish came true, giving the veteran her seventh career game-winning goal – an achievement worth celebrating at her final home opener. Her tie-breaking goal also helped complete the team’s biggest comeback since 2006, and the biggest comeback of Way’s collegiate career.
Way is a quintessential two-tool player, and seems to be all over the field at all times. Even as the team’s top scorer with a current career tally of 34 goals, Way is also trusted to be one of the four defenders who stand alongside the goalkeeper during opposing corners (when a penalty is called inside of the circle), a key scoring opportunity for the other team.
Way, who hails from Lititz, Pennsylvania, has quite the collegiate track record. When she was a true freshman, she started all 23 games. And last season, she had the most points in a single season for a Michigan player since 2004, scoring goals in 14 of the Wolverines’ 21 contests.
During Sunday’s game against Central Michigan, Way helped Michigan hit yet another milestone. An assist on senior Vanessa Sekhon’s game-winning goal in the first half helped the Wolverines’ field hockey program earn its 400th victory.
Way is also one goal away from hitting a career total of 35 goals, which will tie her for 10th place on Michigan’s career goal list.
After all that, it makes sense that Way is one of the three captains on this year’s squad, alongside senior Zara Saydjari and redshirt senior Paige Laytos, who is also from Lititz.
“It’s really good to see them exert their leadership,” Michigan coach Marcia Pankratz said of the captains this weekend. “Including Meredith, of course, in the backfield.”
As for the rest of the season, Way stresses the importance of playing well for a full 70 minutes and winning at home. Earning victories on home turf is especially crucial, as nine of their next eleven games are on their home field.
“We hate losing at home. We hate for somebody to come here and beat us,” Way said. “It’s especially important to me and the rest of the seniors because every time we get the chance to play here, it’s one of our last.”
Way looks to successfully lead her team into Big Ten play, perhaps breaking a few more records along the way.