The No. 17 Michigan field hockey team continued its home-field dominance this season with a 7-1 victory over Pacific on Friday afternoon.
Bouncing back from a loss to No. 6 Penn State in State College last weekend, the Wolverines returned to Ann Arbor to defeat the Tigers to remain unbeaten at home this season. Michigan created numerous scoring chances and carried the majority of possession throughout the game.
“I was happy with how we came out, stayed focused and followed the game plan,” said Michigan coach Marcia Pankratz. “That was really good. And I think a game like this is good for younger players to gain experience.”
Sophomore midfielder Axelle Wouters gave the Wolverines the early lead, scoring her fourth goal of the season just over six minutes into the game. The 1-0 lead would only be temporary, though. Pacific responded with a goal of its own just 20 seconds later to tie the game.
The 1-1 deadlock wasn’t indicative of the remainder of the game, as Michigan took control of the game and wouldn’t relinquish it.
Freshman defender Aisling Naughton scored the second goal of the game 17:30 into the match off of an assist from junior forward Michelle Roberts. Shortly after, Roberts was able to be on the scoring end of the goal, capitalizing on an assist from junior forward Rachael Mack. Keeping the pressure on the Tigers, Mack got a goal of her own, off an assist from freshman midfielder Taryn Mark.
The emphasis on fundamentals was a big contributor to three Michigan goals in under five minutes.
“We started playing two-touch hockey and we went back to basics and simple passes and the simple ball into space, and I thought that worked well,” Naughton said..
Coming out of halftime, the Wolverines continued to control the play but were unable to translate the momentum into any goals until Naughton added another goal off of an assist from Roberts. Six minutes later, freshman defender Jaime Dean scored her first collegiate goal off of an assist from Mack. Rounding out the scoring for Michigan was redshirt sophomore defender Leslie Smith, who scored off of a penalty stroke.
Given the sizeable lead, the Wolverines were able to give several starters some rest and give younger players some valuable experience. Pankratz applauded the players for their concentration in the afternoon game after a day of classes.
“It’s not always easy playing on Friday,” Pankratz said. “The girls have class all day long so they are racing around, and it’s hard to herd them all in and get focused for a game. So I was happy with the way we came out and stayed focused and followed the game plan.”
Michigan outshot Pacific by a tally of 31-2 and also led them in corners, 8-2. The Wolverines hope Friday’s offensive production will continue into the rest of the Big Ten schedule.
“(Scoring goals) definitely boosts our confidence, because when you see the ball going into the net, it’s so much better than seeing it go wide,” Naughton said. “And you can actually say what we’re doing in practice makes it go in.”
The Wolverines will have a week to practice before they take on conference foe Northwestern on Oct. 5 at Ocker Field.