In the blink of an eye, the Michigan women’s soccer team went from being the Big Ten favorite to being in a must-win situation.
Michigan lost a pivotal Big Ten game to No. 20 Purdue last Friday, 1-0. In order to capture the elusive Big Ten regular season title, No. 9 Michigan (6-2 Big Ten, 11-3 overall) must win every single one of its games for the rest of the season and hope that Penn State loses one. This scenario would give the Wolverines the title because although each team would have the same record, Michigan beat No. 12 Penn State earlier this season 4-0.
So Michigan’s goal for the rest of the season is simple: Win every game.
At Indiana on Sunday, Michigan got off on the right foot by topping the Hoosiers 2-0. The Wolverines came out slow against the Hoosiers (3-2-2, 7-4-2), but they were able to bounce back.
The Wolverines had a scare early in the game when goalie Suzie Grech had her clearance pass blocked by Indiana’s Kristen Zmijewski. Zmijewski then had a one-on-one opportunity against Grech, but Grech was able to shut her down to gain redemption for her error.
“I thought our second half was a lot better than the first in terms of being dangerous, setting opportunities up, and being dynamic,” Michigan coach Debbie Rademacher said. “In general, I think we played solid as a group.”
In the 56th minute, just as she had done all year, Michigan freshman Therese Heaton found the net. Abby Crumpton pushed the ball up the field after a missed Indiana opportunity, but was unable to find an open shot. Crumpton dumped the ball off to Heaton, and she was able to put the ball in the right side of the goal. Heaton’s goal was her sixth on the season, which makes her Michigan’s second best scorer behind Crumpton.
Heaton “is a great finisher and she can score goals for us,” Rademacher said. “She’s a player we need up front because she’s strong and because she doesn’t get pushed off the ball.”
The tally was Heaton’s third game-winning goal of the season.
Michigan added to its lead with a Stephanie Chavez goal in the 71st minute. Sophomore forward Kate Morgan launched a bullet from 60 feet out that bounced off the crossbar right to Chavez. Chavez pushed the ball past Indiana goalkeeper Shaunna Dougherty to give Michigan a 2-0 lead.
“Kate (Morgan) produced a lot of points for us last year, and I think she played strong and had a very notable weekend,” Rademacher said. “Her shot that hit the post was one of the best of the day.”
Against Purdue on Friday, Michigan couldn’t muster any offense and Lauren Sesselman’s goal early in the second half was the difference in the 1-0 loss.
Michigan looks to continue its quest to go undefeated for the rest of the season tomorrow against No. 23 Notre Dame.