In soccer, you can’t win when you don’t score a goal.
For the Michigan women’s soccer team, this has been a problem in its last three contests, losing two games and tying one. Michigan has been shut out a total of eight times this season.
The Wolverines (0-4-2 Big Ten, 2-8-3 overall) fell 2-0 at No. 10 Penn State Sunday to cap off a weekend that also included a 1-0 loss to Ohio State Friday.
The Nittany Lions were the third top-10 team Michigan has played this year, but, for the first time this season, the Wolverines came up short.
Earlier this year, Michigan drew with the two other top-10 teams it faced, earning scoreless ties against then No. 2 Notre Dame and No. 8 Purdue.
The Nittany Lions opened the scoring at the 10-minute mark and took a commanding lead with another first-half tally.
“For the first 25-30 minutes, they were really taking it to us,” Michigan coach Debbie Rademacher said. “After that, we had to change things up.”
Michigan looked to make it a match in the second half, but Penn State dialed up its defense and stifled the Wolverines’ resurgent effort.
Michigan notched 15 shots to Penn State’s 14, but the Nittany Lion defense – a unit which gives up an average of less than one goal per game – shut down all Wolverine chances.
Penn State’s speed proved to be the difference in the game, as it helped provide critical scoring opportunities.
“(Penn State) has some special speed that you don’t see against all teams,” Rademacher said. “It helped make the difference in the game.”
Despite the tough defense, Michigan had a great chance to tie the game early.
Senior Katie Bohard’s shot nailed off the post. To make matters worse, Penn State added its second goal moments later to ice the game.
“We needed to dig ourselves out of the 2-0 hole we had early,” Rademacher said. “We had a golden opportunity that we just missed.”
Michigan’s offense struggled over the course of the two games this weekend, scoring no goals. To make the Big Ten tournament, which is Michigan’s goal, the Wolverines would have to win their four remaining Big Ten games. Rademacher realizes that getting the offense together is key.
“When you’re under pressure, you’ve got to keep encouraging players,” Rademacher said. “We’re generating opportunities, but, in order to convert, we’ve got to keep encouraging them.”
Against Ohio State on Friday, it was the second half that proved perilous to Michigan. A Buckeye goal in the 58th minute was the game’s lone tally.
Just minutes later, Michigan goaltender Madison Gates made a diving save on an Ohio State penalty shot to keep the game in reach.
Once again, Michigan put together a valiant effort near the end of the game, pressuring the Buckeyes with five shots in the final 10 minutes but none found the back of the net.
Michigan hopes to end its drought when it faces Northwestern on Friday.