Michigan dominated for the first 60 minutes of yesterday’s match against Kent State. There was just one slight problem: field hockey games last 70 minutes.
In the final 10 minutes of regulation the Wolverines let a 2-0 lead slip away, and the Golden Flashes forced overtime by tying the score at two. But just four minutes into the extra session, senior Mary Fox scored her first goal of the season to wrap up Michigan’s first win of the year, 3-2.
The victory came as a relief for the Wolverines, both because they had held a comfortable lead and because they lost their first four matches.
“It’s a huge confidence boost,” Fox said. “We hadn’t won yet this season, so knowing what it feels like to win again is great.”
Michigan (1-4) completely controlled the first half of play. The team fired 13 shots in the first period and managed five penalty corners, and kept the Golden Flashes (0-5) from taking any shots or corners. Freshman Kelly Fitzpatrick scored the lone goal of the half on a cross pass from freshman Paige Laytos in the 21st minute of the game.
The Wolverines continued to outplay Kent State for much of the second half. Junior Kristen Tiner gave the team a 2-0 advantage when she found the back of the goal off of a corner nearly 50 minutes into the game, making Michigan’s first corner conversion this season.
“We have a very young attacking line, so we are looking to our corner unit to convert,” Michigan coach Nancy Cox said. “Your corner unit should be converting on at least 20 percent of its tries, and we’re not there yet. We’re (1-for-33) right now.”
But then Michigan lost its way, and Kent State climbed back into the match.
The opportunistic Golden Flashes cut the lead in half in the 60th minute when an airborne shot got past senior goalkeeper Beth Riley to make the score 2-1. And with less than five minutes left in regulation, Kent State scored again off of a rebound to knot the game at two apiece.
The quick change in the momentum shocked the Wolverines.
“I think we were all a little bit surprised,” Fox said. “At one point, we had been looking to shut them out.”
But in the sudden-death overtime, the team wasted no time in finishing off the Golden Flashes. Fitzpatrick found Fox in the center of the circle, and Fox nailed the gamewinner into the right corner of the goal four minutes into the extra period.
Cox seemed pleased with the team’s ability to bounce back after Kent State tied the score late in the game.
“The girls certainly like to keep it interesting,” Cox said. “But today, our team responded well to an overtime game on its home field. We’re building our leadership, and the team is just going to keep getting better and better with each match. It was a good growth opportunity for us today.”
Two freshmen starters – Fitzpatrick and Laytos – have exhibited that growth. Together they accounted for two of the team’s goals in their home debut. They may still be getting used to the quicker pace of the collegiate game, but they have been able to make an impact.
“Things are starting to come together a little bit better for myself and the other freshmen,” Fitzpatrick said. “We have been able to bring a lot of energy to the table so far.”
While the freshmen have stepped up, Cox called out the team’s veterans, and said they should do the same.
“The seniors have to lead this year,” Cox said. “They’ve got to find it within themselves to lead because that’s what seniors and captains at Michigan do.”
Kent State: 2