It must have been something he said.
Despite outshooting Purdue (2-4-1 Big Ten, 6-9-2 overall) and having the clear offensive advantage during the first half on Thursday night in Ann Arbor, the Michigan women’s soccer team went into its halftime talk down 1-0. The Wolverines had missed six chances on corner kicks in the half.
“It’s been that way a bit this year,” Michigan coach Greg Ryan said referring to missed opportunities. “We’re getting good chances but we’re just not putting them away.”
Still without a Big Ten victory, the Wolverines (1-1-2, 6-2-4) looked to Ryan and focused on leaving with a win.
“I just said, ‘Girls, you’re doing everything right, but you’ve got to be more determined to get in the box and score a goal,’ ” Ryan said after the game.
That simple piece of advice worked, as the Wolverines quickly illustrated their determination to get their first Big Ten victory.
Just 56 seconds into the second half, freshman forward Nkem Ezurike fed off of a quick pass from senior forward Amanda Bowery, quickly putting Michigan on the board.
“We knew that we had to give it our all the second half,” Ezurike said. “It came quickly, which was a great thing for us.”
It was the third time this season that Ezurike had buried the game-tying goal for the Wolverines. On the two other occasions, however, neither team ended up capitalizing during overtime, resulting in two ties.
But going into overtime for the fifth time this season was not something the Wolverines wanted to do.
“It’s getting far into the season. We can’t keep tying. We can’t lose. We need to put these goals in,” senior captain Clare Stachel said.
With less than eight minutes left in the game, freshman Meghan Toohey sent the ball up the right side of the box, resting right at the feet of Stachel. Easily beating the Purdue defender, she buried the ball along the right post, tallying her first goal of the season and securing a win for the Wolverines.
The victory was certainly a team effort, as Michigan used much of its bench – including its freshmen – throughout the game to try and spark some action on the field.
“Our freshmen are maturing and we’re becoming a deeper team, so I’m able to use my bench more,” Ryan said. “The freshmen and the upperclassmen that came off the bench, I thought really added to the energy we had on the field. That’s something we haven’t had in a couple of years.”
The Wolverines head to Bloomington on Sunday for a match against the Hoosiers, continuing conference play and kicking off the first of three road games.
“We really are just looking for more Big Ten wins,” Stachel said. “We have lost one, tied two in the Big Ten and as long as we just keep winning, we’re looking for that trip to the NCAAs.”