After a disappointing loss at Indiana on Sunday, the Michigan field hockey team desperately needed an ego-boost before its game against No. 4 Michigan State on Friday.

And yesterday afternoon, Central Michigan was the unwilling supplier of some much-needed confidence. Michigan beat the Chippewas 5-2 in a game sandwiched between the two crucial Big Ten matchups.

For most teams, it would have been easy to look past Central and ahead to the Spartans.

“This group knows they have to focus on the next 35 minutes and we can’t look beyond that,” Michigan coach Nancy Cox said. “Whoever we’re competing against, that’s who these guys are focused on.”

The Wolverines tried not to waste any time in the first half. Sophomore Meredith Way added to her team-leading goal total when she scored on a penalty stroke at the 18:25 mark in the first period. Way finished with two goals, giving her 12 on the year. Junior Kelly Fitzpatrick also netted a pair of goals.

“We’ve been working on taking shots when we get in the circle,” Way said. “A lot of times, we used to mess around with the ball and lose it.”

The Chippewas kept it close in the first half, keeping the ball on Michigan’s end of the field and not letting the Wolverines get by their defense.

But as the game progressed, the Wolverines gained momentum and began to dominate Central Michigan, taking 16 shots on goal in the second half alone.

Though Michigan missed some excellent scoring opportunities, Central Michigan goalie Melinda Curran made even more impressive saves. She made a terrific jumping glove save on a lofted shot from the right side of the circle in the second period. Eventually, the relentless Wolverine attack overpowered Curran with 27 total shots on goal.

Though a junior and a sophomore accounted for every goal but one, Cox credited the win to senior leadership.

“All 20 of the young women in our program contributed to the victory today, and it was senior-led,” Cox said.

Senior Michaela McDermott said she tried to get her teammates’ minds off Indiana, its first Big Ten loss of the season.

“What better way to make a statement than to come out and have a game on Tuesday,” McDermott said. “We wanted to change things around and go out on a high note.”

The team stressed the importance of bouncing back after the disappointing loss against the Hoosiers.

“We needed a good win, a solid win, just to get our confidence back up,” Way said. “Losing to Indiana was rough on us.”

The team knows it can’t spend too much time celebrating this win with the Spartans knocking on the door.

“They said in the huddle after the game, enjoy the evening, get a good meal, and we’ll focus tomorrow when we get to practice,” Cox said.

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