The Michigan women’s soccer team played well without starting sophomore midfielder Meghan Toohey this past weekend, beating both Iowa and Nebraska on the road.

Unfortunately, the Wolverines will have to continue to play without her for the rest of the season.

Weeks after losing starting junior midfielder Holly Hein for the rest of the year, the Wolverines suffered another significant loss when Toohey went down with a broken leg in the 14th minute against Iowa.

Fighting for possession of the ball, Hawkeyes’ goalkeeper Emily Moran tackled Toohey in the box. Moran tackled feet first, coming down on Toohey just underneath her shin guards. The play fractured both Toohey’s fibula and tibia. Although it was a dangerous play, Michigan coach Greg Ryan didn’t think there was any malice behind the tackle.

“I don’t think there was any intent from the goalkeeper to hurt (Toohey),” Ryan said. “I do think it was a dangerous challenge, though, because it’s not the way goalkeepers are normally trained to try and win a ball in those situations.”

Even though Toohey only had one goal on the season, her impact was felt beyond the box score. As one of the best two-way players on the team, her dynamic speed created trouble for many opposing defenses. She used her aggressive style and abundant energy to constantly pressure the ball.

Considering Toohey was named as a preseason Big Ten player to watch, her injury will have a significant impact on the team’s strategy moving forward.

“I don’t think you can replace a Meghan Toohey,” Ryan said. “We don’t have another player on the team like her. She adds so much to our team that without her, we’re just not the same team.

“We have to look for other options, though. We may have to play in a different way.”

With the loss of Toohey, Michigan has lost two starting midfielders this year. Although Toohey’s production will be hard to reproduce, Ryan will look for his underclassmen to try to fill the void left by her injury.

He suggested that freshmen midfielders Christina Murillo and Chloe Sosenko as well as sophomore forward Shelby Chambers-Garcia will all need to step up to help ease the loss.

Even with all the adversity the team has faced during the past weeks, Ryan has faith in his team.

“It’s a tough place to be in but this team has a great spirit, they have a lot of confidence in each other, and they will battle for each other like no other team I have coached,” Ryan said. “I’m just happy to have a team with this kind of spirit.”

EZURIKE, KOPMEYER EARN BIG TEN ACCOLADES: Sophomore forward Nkem Ezurike and redshirt junior goalie Haley Kopmeyer were both honored by the Big Ten this week after superb performances against Iowa and Nebraska.

Named Big Ten Co-Offensive Player of the Week, Ezurike was the offensive catalyst for the Wolverines on their first Big Ten road trip of the season. She scored all of the team’s three goals and now leads the team with seven goals after scoring four goals in as many games. Ezurike also has five assists and is tied for eighth in the Big Ten in goals and assists.

On the other side of the ball, Kopmeyer helped contain two of the conference’s elite scorers — Iowa’s Cloe Lacosse and Nebraska’s Morgan Marlborough — on her way to earning Defensive Player of the Week honors. With 16 saves and a shutout this past weekend, she now leads the Big Ten in saves (84), save percentage (.884), saves per game (6.46) and shutouts (6). She’s third in goals against average (0.82).

ROAD WARRIORS With wins at both Iowa and Nebraska, Michigan earned its first weekend sweep on the road in the Big Ten since 2004. The Wolverines are also undefeated on the road in the Big Ten this season.

Michigan is now tied for second in the Big Ten with a 3-1-1 conference record.

“I think we are just playing with a lot more confidence. I think now the girls are now just starting to realize that they are good,” Ryan said after Michigan’s 2-1 victory over Nebraska.

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