Ohio State got off on the wrong foot to begin Big Ten play Thursday against No. 19 Michigan, losing its second straight in a close 14-12 loss which saw Michigan earn its first win against the Buckeyes in four years.
Ohio State (4-4, 0-1 Big Ten) came into the game with momentum after winning seven of the last 10 against Michigan (5-3, 1-0 Big Ten). However this year, the Wolverines got the better of their longtime rival.
Ohio State started slow, trailing 2-0 early in the first quarter after junior midfielder Josie Gooch and sophomore midfielder Julia Schwabe scored for the Wolverines. Head coach Amy Bokker said the Buckeyes leaned on their defensive game plan but couldn’t carry it out all the way.
“I thought we just needed to do a better job of putting it all together,” Bokker said. “We were forcing the shots we wanted, and then we needed to make saves.”
Ohio State responded however, after goals from freshman attack Zoe Coleman and graduate midfielder Jamie Level knotted the game at two apiece.
Level scored a season-high four goals. She said despite the loss, she puts her best foot forward and happened to have a goal-scoring role this time around.
“There was a whole nother level of wanting to get to the cage, and wanting to put up points as a team,” Level said. “I wanted to do it for my team, and today I was more of an attacker instead of a midfielder, so I knew my role was to get to the goal.”
At the end of the first quarter, the Buckeyes were down 4-3, but they notched a goal from senior attack Ashley Turner assisted by senior attack and captain Nicole Ferrara early in the second quarter.
Freshman attack Casey Roberts then scored off of a free-position shot to give Ohio State its first lead of the game 5-4. Michigan scored three-straight goals from freshmen midfielder Ceci Stein, sophomore midfielder Jane Fetterolf and graduate midfielder Erin Garvey to help push Michigan ahead 8-6 at the half.
Junior goalie Regan Alexander had seven saves despite allowing 14 goals. She said saving shots against a rival like Michigan feels different compared to playing other teams, but she knew there were a couple of goals she could have saved.
“It definitely feels different than other games, and I know that moving forward I will be confident in saving more shots,” Alexander said.
Michigan’s junior goalie Maya Santa-Maria leads the Big Ten Conference with a 51.4 save percentage, but she struggled Thursday with five saves and allowing 11 goals with a .313 save rate.
Both teams started right where they left off in the third quarter as the Buckeyes kept trying to chip away at the Michigan lead. Goals from junior attack Jamie Lasda and Ferrara kept Ohio State in the game, but Michigan came back on the other end with goals of their own from Garvey and graduate defender Kaley Thompson.
Ohio State still trailed at the end of the third quarter 10-9 but evened the game at 10 with a goal from Level –– her 11th of the season. Michigan responded with a goal of its own from Thompson, who had a hat-trick in the game.
Ohio State scored its last goal in the game to make it 11-all from Lasda who also had a hat-trick along with two assists.
The Wolverines scored back-to-back goals from Thompson and freshman midfielder Jill Smith to take a 13-11 lead to seal the victory. Smith currently leads Michigan with 29 goals and is ranked second nationally in goals scored averaging 4.67 a game.
Bokker said she thinks the team can learn from the loss and move on to the next game against Colorado on Sunday.
“We got to keep getting better,” Bokker said. “I thought we did compete a little bit better than some of the games in the past, and we kept playing hard. We just need to use our IQ.”
Ohio State will be at home again Sunday at noon against the Buffaloes where they will look to end their two-game losing streak. The game will be broadcast on BTN+.
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