The Ohio State women’s soccer team’s three-game win streak was snapped against rival Michigan Sunday afternoon in a tale of two halves.
The Wolverines (7-2, 2-0) defeated the Buckeyes (3-5-1, 1-1) 2-1 in a physical matchup that gave them their fourth consecutive victory, and their second straight over Ohio State.
After a scramble in the box that ended in two Michigan injuries (junior defender Alia Martin and sophomore defender Janiece Joyner), junior forward Marissa Birzon scored Ohio State’s lone goal into an empty net, assisted by redshirt junior forward Meghan Kammerdeiner.
The Wolverines answered within the next minute, as junior midfielder Nicki Hernandez shot past Ohio State junior goalkeeper Bailey Kolinski on a penalty kick. Later, Michigan struck again as junior midfielder Sarah Stratigakis found the net in the 49th minute of play and the Buckeyes were unable to answer.
“We definately wanted to come out and make a statement. I think both teams came out aggressively and wanted to win since it’s a rivalry,” Birzon said. “We really have to start making that final pass. We’re creating opportunities, we just need to finish them.”
Ohio State’s back line kept Michigan’s forwards at bay in the first half, as defenders junior Izzy Rodriguz, and seniors Marike Mousset and Haley Walker-Robinson made multiple blocks and kept the pressure on. The three played the full 90 minutes, and along with freshmen Aliyah El-Naggar and Kitty Jones-Black, allowed only 11 Michigan shots.
“Our back line is super reliable and Michgian probably had the most mobility of a front three that we’ve seen all year,” head coach Lori Walker-Hock said. “We handled it extremely well in the first half, and then our communication wasn’t as strong in the second half. We allowed them to move us into places that we didn’t want to be in, which pulled us out of our shape.”
Offensively, the Buckeyes attempted 20 shots as Birzon, Kammerdeiner and sophomore forward Kayla Fischer were able to consistently break through the Michigan defense, yet were unable to finish.
“We had really good opportunities and made some adjustments to our press, which worked out really well for us, and then in the second half, we just kept giving the ball away,” Walker-Hock said. “You have to value the ball and we didn’t do a good job of that.”
With a total of three yellow cards and multiple injuries, both teams played with the rivalry in mind. Kammerdeiner received the team’s eighth yellow card of the season, while Michigan freshman forward Daneille Wolfe and sophomore defender Sydeny Shepchard charted the remaining two. In addition to Martin and Joyner’s injuries, Kammerdeiner also took a hit to the right foot in the second half and had to be carted from the field.
“It was always going to be a tough game, especially with who we were playing,” Rodriguz said. “It was great to see how we competed with them because they’re a great team, and going forward we can build off this, continue to work as a team and fight through some of these hard moments.”
The Buckeyes travel to Wisconsin and Minnesota this week to continue Big Ten play, kicking off at 6 p.m. Friday against the Badgers and 2 p.m. Sunday against the Golden Gophers.