Who would win in a fight? A wolverine or a wildcat? This past Friday, the Wildcats got the last laugh as the No. 21 Michigan women’s soccer team dropped its last regular season game to unranked Kentucky by a score of 1-0, on the road.
“I don’t think it was our best showing,” senior captain Andrea Kayal said.
Michigan’s (7-2-1 Big Ten, 13-4-1 overall) best scoring opportunity came late in the first half when forward Abby Crumpton, the Wolverines’ most dangerous offensive weapon, fired a shot off the crossbar.
Kentucky’s Danielle Slupsky could not have picked a better time to score the first goal of her career. At the 32:58 mark, minutes after Crumpton’s missed opportunity, Slupsky took a long ball from senior Christal Mattingly to score the game’s lone goal. It was fitting that on Kentucky’s senior night two seniors, Mattingly and Jami Fritter, would assist on the game-winning tally. After the goal, Michigan “lost focus” as Kayal put it.
“Maybe we could have pulled it off if we were more focused toward the end,” Kayal said.
“Getting everyone on the same page for a full 90 minutes is a very difficult task.”
After the goal, Kentucky (7-7 SEC, 9-7) dominated the rest of the game. The Wildcats pounded the ball into Michigan’s zone over and over, out-shooting the Wolverines 14-3 in the second half of the contest. Early in the second period, Kentucky almost added to its lead with a flurry of shots that deflected off the crossbars. Michigan goalie Suzie Grech, who finished the game with seven saves, ended the onslaught by knocking the ball out of bounds.
“The loss does nothing to our team going into Big Tens. We’re really confident going into the tournament and we know what we have to do,” Kayal said. “The regular season title was our first goal, but now that the chance has passed, our goal is the tournament.”
After the nonconference loss, Michigan remains in second in the Big Ten standings, thanks in part to Illinois’ upset over No. 11 Purdue yesterday afternoon, behind powerhouse Penn State.
Because of the Illini’s win, the Wolverines will remain the second seed in the upcoming conference tournament and will face seventh-seeded Ohio State on Thursday in East Lansing.