Ten minutes into Tuesday’s match at Central Michigan, Michigan found itself with a penalty corner opportunity. Defender Kara Lentz fired a low shot on net and forward Jill Civic redirected the shot past Chippewa goalie Danielle Frank to give Michigan a 1-0 lead. The goal was all the Wolverines (4-3) needed. A swarming Michigan defense limited Central Michigan’s opportunities, and the Wolverines’ goalie Beth Riley did the rest, making six saves to record her first shutout of the season in No. 8 Michigan’s 2-0 win.

“It’s always nice to have a shutout,” Riley said. “I think it’s really good for the team. It’s a confidence builder to know that we can do it, and we’ve done it before.”

Riley and the Michigan defense did a great job of playing together to keep the Chippewas scoreless. Working with the defense and keeping a mental edge are the two things Riley has been emphasizing this season.

“I always want to focus on communicating with my team and directing the defense to keep myself mentally in the game, even when I am not facing a lot of shots,” Riley said. “When I am facing a lot of shots, and if I give up a goal, I work on resetting my mental attitude and just take every shot as it is, put those goals in the past and refocus.”

Riley showed what the right mentality can do in Tuesday’s match. She and the Michigan defense played their toughest when Central Michigan (2-3) had chances to get on the board. The Chippewas had 11 penalty corner opportunities in the match, but failed to convert on any of them. In contrast to Central Michigan’s struggles, Michigan was able to capitalize on two of its 11 penalty corner chances, which proved to be the difference in the Wolverines’ victory.

Another credit to Michigan’s stellar defense is that, in shutting out Central Michigan, the Wolverines held Chippewas’ star forward, Alicia Balanesi, scoreless for the first time all year.

Michigan forward Katie Morris continued her assault on opposing defenses. After notching game-winning goals in both of the Wolverines’ matches last weekend – including tallying a hat trick on Saturday – Morris found the net once again Tuesday, extending Michigan’s lead to two just before halftime. Morris has six of the Wolverines’ 12 total goals this season.

“I’m getting a lot of chances and making the most of them,” Morris said. “Scoring goals is my job as a forward, so I’m just playing my role.”

Even though the win was Michigan’s fourth straight, the Wolverines aren’t allowing themselves to get overconfident.

“We’re always happy to get the wins, but, at the same time, we know we still have a lot to work on,” Morris said. “We’re not where we want to be yet, but we’ll keep taking the wins as they come.”

The Wolverines will look to extend their winning streak to five in a row when they host Vermont on Sunday at Phyllis Ocker field.

 

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