Maybe it’s the worst things in life that come in threes. On Sunday at Ocker Field, the No.13 Michigan field hockey team (6-5) dropped its third-straight Big Ten conference game by a score of 3-2 to No. 7 Penn State (11-1). On Friday, Michigan fell to No. 8 Indiana (9-1), allowing three goals before succumbing, 3-1.
The game against Penn State was a tale of two halves, as the Wolverines went down 3-0 at halftime and capitalized on strong play in the second half to tally two goals. But the effort was too little, too late, as the clock ran down to zero before Michigan could tie up the match. Still, coach Nancy Cox saw many things in her team’s effort in the second half that bode well for the future.
“The ball speed got better in the second half and our kids are getting a lot better at finishing,” Cox said.
“As long as we make improvements on the backfield line, the midfield line and the forward line, we’re going to be where we need to be. It’s frustrating for all of us because we want nothing but success, but we’re going to be successful when the time comes for us to be successful.”
Penn State and Michigan have played each other 27 times in series history, with the Nittany Lions holding an all-time record of 19-8. But Michigan had won six of the last eight meetings between the two programs before Sunday’s, so the team was looking to continue its good run.
Two minutes into the game, Penn State got on the board with a quick goal and tallied two more before halftime.
Michigan’s sense of urgency was palpable, which translated into a pair of goals in the second half by freshman forwards Stephanie Hoyer and Erin Dallas.
Junior goalkeeper Beth Riley made nine saves in net and the defense tightened up in the latter part of the game.
Michigan kept the pressure on Penn State, and the Nittany Lions defense bent but didn’t break.
“Penn State’s a very good team this year,” Cox said. “Right now they’re in the top-10 in the nation, but we’re going to be there in the end. Our kids just have to keep believing and stepping up to their roles.”
Against Indiana, the Wolverines got into another 3-0 hole. In the last moments, Dallas connected on Michigan’s only score of the game.
But even though this weekend didn’t go its way on the scoreboards, the team still has a positive attitude the rest of the year.
“The weekend was bad because we lost,” Cox said.
“But it wasn’t bad in the sense that we got a heck of a lot better. And that’s what it’s all about when you have a very youthful team. We’re going to be where we need to be when the time comes.”