Oct. 8, 2013
The No. 19-ranked University of Michigan women's soccer team (9-2-1, 3-1-1 Big Ten) closes out a three-match road trip this Sunday (Oct. 13), squaring off against No. 11 Penn State (10-2-1, 4-1-0) in State College, Pa. The match will begin at 1 p.m. at Jeffrey Field.
For the Wolverines, a win would pull them ahead of Penn State in the Big Ten standings. The Nittany Lions come into Sunday's match tied atop the Big Ten with Nebraska (12 points, 4-1-0), while Michigan is tied for second with Wisconsin (10 points, 3-1-1). The Wolverines have never won in 12 all-time meetings in State College, but they are looking for a measure of payback after being eliminated in a shootout by Penn State in the third round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament last November, a match that also took place at Jeffrey Field.
With two wins last week, Michigan is tied with Wisconsin for second in the Big Ten (10 points, 3-1-1). Penn State and Nebraska are tied atop the standings (12 points, 4-1-0). The Wolverines are ranked first in fewest goals allowed (eight) and goals-against average (0.65) and second in average scoring differential (+1.33). Individually, Nkem Ezurike is tied for fourth in both points (20) and goals (seven) and is also tied for fifth in assists (six) with Shelina Zadorsky. Freshman Madisson Lewis is tied for second in game-winning goals (three), and freshman Taylor Bucklin is second in goals-against average (0.58).
Following last week's results, Michigan is ranked No. 19 in this week's NSCAA/Continental Tire rankings, released on Tuesday (Oct. 8). The Wolverines are also ranked No. 14 in the third edition of the RPI, released on Monday.
[ Rankings | RPI ]
With its win last Sunday at Nebraska, Michigan is 3-0-1 against ranked teams this season. It is the first time since 2006 that the Wolverines have beaten three ranked teams in the same season. Sunday's match against Penn State will be Michigan's fifth match this season against a ranked team.
For the third straight year, the Wolverines have won their first three road matches in Big Ten play (2013: Iowa, Michigan State, Nebraska; 2012: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Northwestern; 2011: Indiana, Iowa, Nebraska). The last two years, the Wolverines lost the fourth match (2012: 3-1 at Ohio State; 2011: 2-0 at Michigan State). Michigan has won its first four conference road matches only twice (2004: Minnesota, Iowa, Purdue, Indiana; 2000: Purdue, Indiana, Iowa, Illinois).
Nkem Ezurike needs three goals to become the all-time scoring leader, currently held by Kacy Beitel (44, 1997-00). Ezurike is also the fourth member of the 100-point club at Michigan and is fourth all-time in career points (100), a record currently held by Abby Crumpton (116, 1999-02).
1. Abby Crumpton (1999-02) -- 116 (43 G, 30 A)
2. Kacy Beitel (1997-00) -- 114 (44 G, 26 A)
3. Amber Berendowsky (1996-99) -- 113 (40 G, 33 A)
4. Nkem Ezurike (2010-Present) -- 100 (42 G, 16 A)
Eleven different players have recorded at least one goal this season (last: Christina Murillo at Michigan State) and 15 different players -- more than half the roster -- have recorded at least one point.
Freshman Taylor Bucklin has three matches this season in which she has not had to make a save and has made more than five saves in only two matches.
Michigan is 4-2 this season in matches decided by one goal. The Wolverines have scored more than one goal in all nine wins this season and have not allowed more than one goal in a match all season. She is last in the Big Ten in saves (29), a testament to how well the defense is playing in front of her. Altogether, the Michigan defense has allowed only eight goals all season, best in the Big Ten.
Penn State is 10-2-1 this season and tied with Nebraska for first place in the Big Ten Conference (4-1-0). The Nittany Lions are ranked No. 11 in this week's NSCAA/Continental Tire rankings. Penn State is averaging three goals per contest, led by All-American and 2012 Big Ten Forward of the Year Maya Hayes, who leads the team in goals (13) and points (31). Other top players include Raquel Rodriguez, the 2012 Big Ten Freshman of the Year, and Whitney Church, the 2012 Big Ten Defender of the Year. Britt Eckerstrom has started 12 of 13 matches in goal, posting a 1.49 goals-against average (19 GA) and .736 save percentage (53 saves).
Series: Michigan is 4-17-6 all-time against Penn State. The Wolverines have never won in State College (0-8-4 all-time). Their last win in the series came on Oct. 4, 2002 (4-0). The two teams met twice last season -- both in State College -- playing to two draws. The second meeting last season came in the third round of the NCAA Tournament, as Penn State knocked Michigan out after advancing in a shootout (3-2).
Friday, Oct. 18 -- vs. Indiana (U-M Soccer Stadium), 7 p.m.
Sunday, Oct. 20 -- vs. Purdue (U-M Soccer Stadium), 3 p.m.
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Contact: Brad Rudner (734) 763-4423