Nov. 10, 2012
Site: Ann Arbor, Mich. (U-M Soccer Stadium)
Event: NCAA Championship (First Round)
Score: Michigan 2, Central Michigan 1 (OT)
Records: U-M (15-5-2), CMU (15-7-1)
Next U-M Event: Friday, Nov. 16 -- vs. Portland - NCAA Championship Second Round (State College, Pa.), Time TBA
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Fifth-year senior Clare Stachel (Grand Rapids, Mich./Forest Hills Central) scored the game-tying goal with 40 seconds remaining in the second half to send the game to overtime, and junior Nkem Ezurike (Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia/Sackville) followed with the game-winner in the 95th minute to send the University of Michigan women's soccer team past Central Michigan, 2-1, on Saturday (Nov. 10) in the first round of the NCAA Championship at U-M Soccer Stadium. It is Michigan's first NCAA tournament win since 2003.
After the Wolverines failed to convert on two corner kicks in the opening two minutes, Central Michigan took an early lead at the 2:07 mark with a goal from Laura Gosse. The Chippewas were awarded a throw-in on the left flank, where Bailey Brandon sent a long throw into the Michigan penalty area, and the ball took a difficult bounce in front of the Michigan goal, hitting off Gosse and into the net.
Ezurike and freshman Cassie Collins (San Diego, Calif./Westview) combined for the Wolverines' best chance of the opening frame in the 24th minute. Ezurike saved the ball from going over the end line after the ball trickled through the Central Michigan defense, and she played a pass back into the middle of the penalty area to Collins, who hit a low shot off the left post.
The Wolverines threatened again five minutes later, when senior/junior Holly Hein (Castaic, Calif./West Ranch) receiveda ball on the back post off a long corner kick, and she sent a cross into the middle of the box, where junior Meghan Toohey (Philadelphia, Pa./Phil-Mont Christian) headed the ball off the crossbar.
Michigan nearly got on the board again in the 68th minute when freshman Corinne Harris (Chicago, Ill./Walter Payton College Prep) played a ball that led Ezurike, who held off her defender and fired a powerful left-footed shot that hit the crossbar. Six minutes later, Harris and Ezurike combined for a give-and-go in the box, where Harris got behind the defense and slotted the ball into the net, but the goal was called back for offside.
The Wolverines loaded the Central Michigan end of the field with attackers in the final minutes and broke through with Stachel's goal in the final minute of regulation. From nearly 40 yards out, sophomore Chloe Sosenko (South Lyon, Mich./Brighton) sent in a feed, which Stachel met with a header that bounced off the crossbar and into the net. The goal is Stachel's first of the season and sent the match to overtime at a 1-1 tie.
Five minutes into extra time, senior Emily Jaffe (Ann Arbor, Mich./Pioneer) received the ball at the top of the 18-yard box, where she held off her defender and sent a ball towards the Central Michigan goal that was deflected directly to the feet of Ezurike, who slotted a left-footed shot into the bottom-left corner of the net to give U-M the 2-1 win.
Michigan outshot Central Michigan, 24-14, and held the edge in corner kicks 11-1.
Fifth-year senior Haley Kopmeyer (Troy, Mich./Lahser) recorded three saves in the contest.
Michigan moves on to the second round of the NCAA Championship. U-M will play Portland on Friday (Nov. 16) in State College, Pa. The Pilots are the fourth seed in the region. The two teams have met only once before, with Portland winning, 3-0, on Oct. 6, 1996. The time for Friday's match will be released after first-round play has concluded.
Shots: U-M 24, CMU 14
Shots on Goal: U-M 7, CMU 4
Saves: U-M 3 (Haley Kopmeyer), CMU 5 (Stefanie Turner)
Corner Kicks: U-M 11, CMU 1
Cards: U-M, Meghan Toohey, 38:02 (Yellow); U-M, Chloe Sosenko, 81:01 (Yellow).
N O T E S
U-M is 10-9-1 all-time in the NCAA Championship.
Following tonight's win, U-M is 3-0-1 all-time against Central Michigan.
Michigan has reached double-digit home wins for the second time in program history (10-1-0). The program record for most home wins in a season is 12, set in 2002.
Haley Kopmeyer is now the program's leader for minutes played by a goalkeeper (7,008).
Nkem Ezurike now has six game-winning goals on the season.
Michigan is 4-1-2 in overtime games this season. The Wolverines are 2-0-1 in overtime matches in the NCAA Championship.
The goal scored by Central Michigan at 2:07 was the earliest goal given up by Michigan on the season. The previous earliest was against Ohio State (2:42).
Tori McCombs made her ninth start of the season and first since Sept. 15 against Indiana.
Prior to tonight's loss, Central Michigan was 14-0-0 when scoring the match's first goal.
Q U O T E S
Michigan Head Coach Greg Ryan
On Clare Stachel ... "It's a fantastic story. She's had a stress reaction that we've had to manage all season long. She's had very few minutes, very little practice time. She's never scored a head goal in her life. For her to flip one in the upper 90 was just amazing. It just shows how much she wanted it."
On the missed opportunities ... "When we went down 1-0 with just two blunders on the play, I was just so disappointed. But then, we started getting chance after chance. These weren't half chances, these were good chances right in front of the net. All of our best chances were right in front of the goal, and we were missing sitter after sitter. Some days you wonder if this isn't your day. With 40 seconds left, I guess it became our day."
On if the pressure mounted because of the missed opportunities ... "I think just the opposite. They were more determined. We weren't changing strategies. We were creating opportunities, and we just had to keep creating until we put them away. That was awfully late to put it away. Our kids believed they were going to get the goal. The other thing is that I have to give credit to our bench. I think we wore Central Michigan out with our depth tonight. Corinne [Harris] had a fantastic game. Same with Shelby Chambers-Garcia. And Nkem [Ezurike] was absolutely fantastic once again."
Central Michigan Head Coach Neil Stafford
Opening statement ... "First off, congratulations to Michigan. They battled hard. My heart goes out to our players, who battled incredibly hard, as well. We have nothing to hang our heads about. It just shows how tough the MAC is, and what a quality program Central Michigan is."
On the amount of pressure Michigan was putting on Central Michigan ... "When you put pressure on an opponent like that, you get nervy. At the end of the day, sometimes you have those days where they don't go in. We watched Michigan play Illinois, and they have several go off the crossbar, and in close. Sometimes you need to be as lucky as you are good, and tonight, I thought we were both lucky and good, but it wasn't good enough."
On the atmosphere and if it had an effect on the players ... "No. I thought we were absolutely outstanding. We've been preaching to our players all the time that they are much bigger than any occasion they played in this season. We've got a quality program. I love bringing the quality program to a quality facility like this. Anytime you get to play at some of these schools that really have these facilities, you consider yourself blessed and lucky. You get to play the greatest sport in the world for 90 minutes at quality places like that. You have to embrace the moment."
On the effort from his team ... "This team showed an enormous amount of character all season. Earlier this season, we played NIU at NIU, and we were down a man for 83 minutes. We won 2-1 in overtime. These guys have a never-say-die attitude. They play like Chippewas and you can't ask for anything more."
Contact: Brad Rudner (734) 763-4423