The Michigan women’s soccer team, who had not lost at home since its season opener against Arkansas on Aug. 21, entered its final game of the 2009 campaign hoping to send its seniors off with a major upset. But the Wolverines were outshot and outmatched against No. 22 Penn State.
Against the Nittany Lions (8-1-1 Big Ten, 12-5-2 overall), the Michigan offense did not register a single shot on goal but remained positive about its performance in a 2-0 loss on Senior Day in Ann Arbor.
“I thought we played really well,” junior captain Jackie Carron said. “Penn State is one of the best teams in the conference, and we were actually able to possess and made them chase us for a good part of the game.”
Without a potent offensive attack, the Michigan defense was pressured all day. It allowed 21 shots, including nine on goal.
Michigan coach Greg Ryan stood beside his faltering offense and looked toward the future.
“From an attacking standpoint, we’re just not at the level that we need to be at to break down a team like Penn State, but we will be very soon,” he said.
The lone goal of the first half came with 9:45 remaining. After an errant giveaway from a Michigan defender, Penn State senior forward Katie Schoepfer took a centering pass at the top of the box and buried it in the left corner of the goal.
After finishing the half with no attempted shots, the Wolverines (1-4-5, 6-9-5) came out with a different mentality after the break, putting more of an emphasis on creating an offensive attack.
“(At halftime) we just talked about how this is our last game, so take some risks and take some shots” Ryan said. “We passed up two or three shots in the first half where we were right at the top of the box and didn’t shoot.”
The final tally of the game came from Penn State freshman forward Jackie Molinda, who knocked in a crossing pass at the 81:58 mark, effectively sealing the victory for the Nittany Lions.
The Wolverines’ post-game discussion was surprisingly chipper. With just three departing seniors and an entire defense returning, the squad has high aspirations for the 2010 season.
“The future is very bright for this team,” Ryan said. “But I couldn’t be more proud of this group of players.”
The three seniors, midfielders Amy Klippert and Alex Jendrusch and top-notch defender Kylie Neschke, donned their yellow captains’ armbands for the final game of the year and were honored in a pregame ceremony. After an injury-riddled season, Neschke is expected to return for a fifth year.
Jendrusch, who finished as the team’s leading scorer this season, was pleased with her final game and with her career as a Wolverine.
“I never thought I’d be so sad to finish,” Jendrusch said. “I’m really pleased with the way I played this year, and I’m pleased with the whole team. I’m just so happy to be a part of Michigan soccer.”