Chloe Sosenko’s swerving effort missed its target by inches, and the No. 22 Michigan women’s soccer team couldn’t find the back of the net as it battled to a scoreless draw in double overtime against Iowa on Friday night.
Sosenko had the best opportunity of any player on either team to break the scoreless tie. With seven minutes remaining in the second overtime period, the sophomore defender found herself unmarked when she received a pass at the top of the 18-yard box. Sosenko drove a curving shot towards the upper-90, but the ball flew harmlessly past the crossbar.
As the game continued late into the night, the Wolverines (3-0-1 Big Ten, 9-2-1 overall) found themselves taking control. In overtime, they outshot the Hawkeyes 5-0, outrunning tired defenders to every loose ball. But when the final whistle blew, Iowa’s back four had done just enough, holding the Michigan offense scoreless for only the second time all year.
Using sheer numbers, the Hawkeyes (2-1-1, 11-1-1) managed to neutralize junior forward Nkem Ezurike and the Wolverines’ attack. Fielding a 4-5-1 lineup and dropping their outside midfielders, Iowa defended every attack with eight players. Michigan coach Greg Ryan said he could do little to beat the Hawkeye defense.
“They were playing with a block of eight,” he said. “That’s tough to break down.”
The Wolverines’ defense also performed well, neutralizing the best attacking unit in the conference en route to their sixth straight shutout. Michigan has not allowed a goal in more than 560 minutes of play. Though Iowa’s offense produced 13 shots, only two challenged fifth-year senior goalkeeper Haley Kopmeyer.
“The defense is making my job pretty easy,” Kopmeyer said.
Ryan praised the defensive unit, which shut down Iowa forward Cloe Lacasse, one of the best strikers in the country.
“It’s not because we’re faster,” he said. “Our backs are just so organized.”
Entering Friday’s contest, Lacasse ranked third in the nation in goals (11) and fourth in points per game (2.33). Against Michigan, she did not fire a single shot on target.
Though 110 minutes of soccer didn’t feature any goals, there was plenty of drama at the U-M soccer complex.
In the 31st minute, junior defender Shelina Zadorsky took a corner kick for the Wolverines that almost curled into the net for a goal. The ball sailed over the goalkeeper’s hands but was headed away by an Iowa defender before it could cross the back line.
In the 84th minute, Sosenko returned the favor. A Hawkeye forward headed a corner kick towards the far post, but Sosenko managed to parry it away to preserve the scoreless draw.
Sosenko would come up big again in overtime when her spinning effort almost ended the match.
With the tie and a Penn State victory, Michigan slipped out of first place in the Big Ten. It will look to remain in the top two when it faces Nebraska on Sunday afternoon. After a disappointing draw, Kopmeyer said she can’t wait to face the Cornhuskers.
“We all have a sour taste in our mouths,” Kopmeyer said. “We have a chip on our shoulders … and we definitely have to get a win on Sunday.”