Michigan coach Greg Ryan stood with his arms crossed and a smile on his face. His team was gathered in a huddle around him, giving last farewells to its three seniors after a tough 2-0 loss to Penn State last Sunday.

Ryan was proud and content, a surprising sight following the end of a season that produced just one win in the Big Ten play.

“I think the players overachieved (this year), meaning that they got everything out of their ability that they could,” Ryan said.

The Wolverines (1-4-5 Big Ten, 6-9-5 overall) showed improvement this year, despite offensive production coming at a premium.

“I’m just proud that we competed in the Big Ten,” said Ryan, following the end of his second season at the helm. “The games we lost, we lost every one except (Penn State) by only one goal. We had a number of ties and a good win against Illinois. For us, that is a big step.”

The team improved from a 4-10-5 record in Ryan’s first season and a 3-9-6 season in 2007. Along with the team’s two-win improvement, several individuals stepped up on the field this year.

Two team captains — senior Alex Jendrusch and junior defensive specialist Jackie Carron — were honored by the Big Ten for their performance during the season.

Jendrusch, a walk-on midfielder from Troy, was honored with a Sportsman Award. She led Michigan in scoring this year with four goals.

Carrying the Wolverines with a team-high 10 points, Carron was selected to the All-Big Ten second team.

Another prominent figure for the Michigan defense was redshirt freshman goalkeeper Haley Kopmeyer, who averaged just 1.04 goals against per game this season. She was 4-6-5 in 15 starts, and set a Michigan record for most shutouts by a rookie netminder by picking up her sixth against Illinois on Nov. 1.

The weakest aspect of the team, according to the coaches, was their inability to create an offensive presence in most games. The Wolverines scored just 20 goals in 20 contests. The Michigan offense was blanked nine times, including two games — against Marquette and No. 22 Penn State — where the Wolverines didn’t get a shot on goal.

To remedy the offensive woes, Ryan is counting on several highly touted recruits to make a major impact next year. He also pointed to a lack of available scholarships during the past two seasons.

“This is a team who is playing most of our games with under seven scholarships, and the NCAA maximum is 14 for each team,” Ryan said. “We won’t be in that situation next year. We’ll have 12 of those 14 scholarships filled with very skilled attacking players. Plus, the whole defense returns.”

The Wolverines were limited to just seven scholarships this year because several players who had signed under the previous head coach, Debbie Rademacher, are either no longer with the team or don’t see significant playing time.

“We’ll have more good players coming in, and I think the thing we’ve got to work on the most is just attacking,” Ryan said. “But we have to work with attacking players and we don’t get a lot of those in until next year.”

For a typically defensive-minded Michigan squad, the upcoming year will bring new faces to Ann Arbor and could showcase a newfound offensive strategy to strengthen the Wolverines’ stature in the Big Ten.

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