If it was looking for a redeeming victory, the Michigan women’s soccer team sure didn’t find it yesterday.
The Wolverines hit the road Sunday for their Big Ten season opener, only to get pounced on, 4-1, by No. 9 Penn State.
Coming into the game, Michigan’s defense had yet to allow a first-half goal all season. But the Nittany Lions were not too keen on keeping the Wolverines’ streak alive, scoring in the 38th minute to head into the half up by one.
Penn State took advantage of Michigan’s sluggish second-half start by firing seven straight shots and earning two corners. As a result of the offensive barrage, the Nittany Lions scored a goal in the 57th minute, leaving the Wolverines with a two-goal deficit.
Down but not out, Michigan quickly bounced back when senior captain Katelin Spencer snuck in a goal off a rebound in the 61st minute to bring her team within one.
With less than 20 minutes to play, Michigan brought up the offense hoping for a late comeback But Penn State capitalized on the Wolverines’ adjustments by counter-attacking, which eventually led to a one-on-one breakaway goal.
The Nittany Lions pulled away with their third goal in the 78th minute, and finished off the Wolverines in the 87th minute with another goal.
The Nittany Lions may have been helped by their wish to avenge their loss to Michigan last season in the Big Ten Tournament. The Wolverines beat a previously undefeated Penn State squad on penalty kicks last November.
“Penn State is a good team,” Michigan coach Debbie Rademacher said. “We were in the game at 2-1 and let up two unanswered goals when we were pressing offensively.”
Michigan sophomore goalie Madison Gates made six saves for a career-high performance in the loss. Penn State outshot Michigan 19-7.
The 4-1 loss is Michigan’s first loss by three or more goals since late in the 2004 season (a 5-2 loss against Ohio State in the Big Ten Tournament).
Michigan (0-1 Big Ten, 4-4-2 overall), now in the midst of a three-game losing streak, had not lost a conference opener since the 2001 season. But the impressive play of Penn State (1-0, 6-2-2) ended that.
After a tough stretch in which Michigan has suffered losses to No. 1 Notre Dame (Sept. 17), No. 9 Penn State and Oakland (Thursday), the Wolverines will have two home games this weekend to snap out of it.
Michigan will have its first chance at redemption on Friday, when No. 25 Purdue comes to Ann Arbor. A win would bring both Michigan’s record against top-25 teams (1-2) and conference record (0-1) back to .500 on the season. The Wolverines will try to avenge a one-goal loss from last year in West Lafayette against the Boilermakers (2-0, 9-1-2), who are coming off yesterday’s overtime victory against Minnesota. Michigan follows up with a game versus visiting Indiana on Sunday.