Freshman forward Corinne Harris chose a good time to score her first collegiate goal.
With 26 minutes remaining in the second half of Sunday’s match against Detroit, Harris was in the right place at the right time as a deflected shot bounced right to her in front of the goal. Harris needed just two dribbles and a shot for the ball to end up in the back of the net.
The Michigan women’s soccer team held on to defeat Detroit, 1-0, at the U-M Soccer Complex.
But with four freshmen starting and a slew of underclassmen on the roster, the Wolverines (4-0 overall) got off to a slow start in the first half. The offense had few opportunities, but Michigan coach Greg Ryan found a silver lining in Sunday’s performance.
“I think the kids were just tired,” Ryan said. “But it’s a credit to them that they came out and fought the way they did in the second half and found a goal.”
Along with the youthful roster, veteran starters Nkem Ezurike, Shelina Zadorsky and Christina Murillo are still out of the lineup while they’re competing at the under-20 women’s World Cup. Ezurike and Zadorsky play for Canada and Murillo for Mexico. It’s unknown when they’ll return as Canada and Mexico both hope to advance to the later stages of the tournament.
Though the lack of production was noticeable without the trio, their absence has allowed younger players to rise to the occasion and utilize possibly limited action. But the team seems to have found a rhythm with the current roster.
“We’re 4-0, so it sounds like we’re adjusting pretty well,” said redshirt senior Haley Kopmeyer. “We’re only going to get deeper and better when they come back. I think it’s showing how many players we have that can step up and we’ll be ready to come in when we need then down the road.”
Michigan and Detroit went into the locker room at halftime in a scoreless tie. The Wolverines outshot the Titans 7-2 during that period but just couldn’t find the back of the net.
Ryan went to the bench early and often, making three substitutions during the first half. Most noticeably was the addition of junior forward Shelby Chambers-Garcia midway through the half. Chambers-Garcia has been a threat off the bench and leads Michigan in points and goals on the year.
“I think (the bench) really helped us because our forwards and wide midfield players did so much running,” Ryan said. “Corinne was fantastic today. She looked like she could run forever. But those girls that play in the wide areas, they’re just constantly running and having fresh players to bring in was a huge help for us.”
The Wolverines’ stagnant offensive attack continued into the second half, but a stingy defensive effort led by Kopmeyer kept Michigan in the game, despite the offensive woes. Michigan was able to hold Detroit to only three shots in the second half, giving the Titans a total of five on the game compared to Michigan’s 11.
“I don’t think I had to make a genuine save today and that’s a testament to how much our defense is shutting down forwards right now,” Kopmeyer said.
Through four games this season, Kopmeyer has three shutouts.
With 32 minutes remaining in the second half, Chambers-Garcia, who came out at halftime, checked back in the game looking to give the Wolverines an extra spark offensively.
But that spark eventually came from someone else — Harris.
Michigan continues its non-conference play on Thursday when it squares off against Cal State Northridge on the road. The match will be the Wolverines’ first road test.