The field hockey team played even with Michigan for all but the first 17 minutes of the first half Sunday at the field hockey complex.
The No. 15 ranked Wolverines capitalized in the fifth minute, scoring the only goal of the game to win 1-0 by making a long pass that rolled by multiple Central Michigan defenders to Aisling Naughton, who shot past diving senior goalkeeper Anastasia Netto.
“They had us spread out. We just weren’t ready. But we learned, and we didn’t let any more goals in after that,” senior back Emily Girasole said. “We proved ourselves, considering we played (Michigan), and I think we played a really good game.”
Girasole, the leader of the defense, said she texted the defenders words of encouragement after their 1-0 double-overtime loss against Kent State Saturday that cost them a Mid-American Conference Championship.
Head coach Cristy Freese said she was proud of the way the team rebounded.
The Chippewas were mentally and physically exhausted from 99 minutes of game action Saturday, Freese said.
She was worried before the game started, because the team was quieter than usual.
“We’re walking out of the locker room, and some of my seniors are in tears, and I’m thinking, ‘okay this is going to be a struggle today’,” Freese said. “We struggled a little bit initially.”
U-M controlled the game until CMU caused a penalty corner in the 18th minute.
The Wolverines withheld a goal but no longer had complete command of the game.
Junior forward/midfielder Bailey McKeon had one of many interceptions made by the Chippewas in the following minutes and missed a difficult shot as U of M collapsed on her.
The Wolverines did not have any penalty corners in the first half but earned five in a 10-minute span, starting at the 40th minute. CMU’s defense held steady, sometimes not even allowing the U-M to get a shot off.
The Chippewas had four shots in the defensive battle, and their best opportunity to score was in the last seconds of the game.
The ball slid into the circle, and, in typical fashion of senior midfielder Erin Dye, she flew at the ball to take the shot but missed.
CMU allowed two goals in two games this weekend but was winless.
“That’s something we need to look at,” Freese said. “I think we’ve got some good ideas. I think our forwards need to be a little quicker on the ball, and we need to get the ball in the circle a little bit better.”
The Chippewas play Kent State Friday, in a rematch of their game Saturday, to begin the Mid-American Conference tournament in Oxford, Ohio.