Oct. 29, 2013
The No. 8-ranked University of Michigan women's soccer team (14-2-1, 8-1-1 Big Ten) closes out the regular season on Saturday night (Nov. 2) at U-M Soccer Stadium, hosting rival Ohio State (10-5-3, 4-4-2 Big Ten) at 6 p.m. It is also Senior Night, as Michigan will honor its seven seniors -- Nkem Ezurike, Meghan Toohey, Tori McCombs, Kayla Mannino, Holly Hein, Shelby Chambers-Garcia and Shelina Zadorsky -- on the field in a pre-match ceremony.
In order for Michigan to win the Big Ten championship, it needs to beat Ohio State on Saturday and have Nebraska lose or draw against Indiana on Friday (Nov. 1) in Lincoln, Neb. If Nebraska loses and Michigan wins, the Wolverines win the title outright. If Nebraska draws and Michigan wins, the two teams would each have 28 points and share the championship. The Wolverines have never won a regular-season Big Ten championship.
Regardless of the outcome this weekend, Michigan is guaranteed to finish in the top two of the Big Ten Conference, which would be its first top-two finish in 11 years. It ties for the program's highest finish ever in Big Ten play. The Wolverines have finished second four times (1997, 1999, 2001, 2002). Their eight Big Ten wins this year are tied for most conference wins in a single season (also: 1999, 2001).
Michigan is ranked No. 8 in this week's NSCAA/Continental Tire rankings, released on Tuesday. It is the highest national ranking in program history. Prior to Tuesday, the highest Michigan had ever been ranked was No. 9 on Oct. 7, 2002. The Wolverines continue to be ranked No. 7 in the sixth edition of the RPI, released on Monday. [ Rankings | RPI ]
Since the beginning of last season, the Wolverines have won 30 matches, the most in a two-season stretch since 1999-00 (30). This senior class has won 49 career matches, the sixth-highest number of wins by a senior class in program history. The Class of 2000 had 62 wins.
With its win last Sunday over Northwestern, Michigan tied a program record for longest winning streak (seven). The original run was from Sept. 7-28, 1997. During this streak, Michigan has outscored opponents by a 14-3 margin, which includes four shutouts.
Michigan finished perfect on the road in Big Ten play (6-0-0). Its six wins ties a single-season program record for most road wins (also: 1998, 2004). Additionally, the Wolverines currently hold a six-match winning streak in road matches, a new program record.
The Wolverines continue to boast one of the nation's top defensive units. Out of 323 schools, U-M ranks 10th in goals-against average (0.51) and 14th in save percentage (.869). Freshman goalkeeper Taylor Bucklin is 10th in goals-against average (0.46) and 15th in save percentage (.875). Among Big Ten schools, Michigan is first in fewest goals allowed (nine) and goals-against average (0.51) and tied for first in shutouts (eight) and 11th in saves (59).
With an assist last Friday at Illinois, Nkem Ezurike is up to 108 career points. She is currently fourth on the all-time list for points and needs nine to break the record of 116, held by Abby Crumpton (1999-02). Back on Oct. 20, Ezurike became the school's all-time scoring leader (45 goals).
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) -- 108 (45 G, 18 A)
Fifth-year senior defender Holly Hein was announced as one of the 10 national finalists for the 2013 Senior CLASS Award on Oct. 16. Fan votes will be combined with media and Division-I head coaches' votes to determine the winner. Fans can vote once per day until Nov. 25. The winners will be announced during the 2013 NCAA Women's College Cup in December. [ Release | VOTE ]
Twelve different players have recorded at least one goal this season (last: Tori McCombs at Penn State) and 16 different players -- more than half the roster -- have recorded at least one point.
The Wolverines are 6-2 in matches decided by one goal this season and 12-0-0 when scoring the first goal of the match (2-2-0 when opponent scores first). In addition, Michigan has scored more than one goal in 12 of its 14 wins and has not yielded more than one goal in any contest all season.
Ohio State is 10-5-3 on the season and 4-4-2 in the Big Ten. The Buckeyes are one of five teams fighting for the final four spots in the Big Ten Tournament. They have 14 points (along with Minnesota), while Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois are behind them with 13 points. The Buckeyes are led on offense by freshman forward Nichelle Prince, who is third in the Big Ten in both goals (12) and points (29). Ohio State has two solid midfielders in Danica Wu and Ellyn Gruber, each of whom have seven assists on the season. Goalkeeper Jillian McVicker has played the majority of the season and ranks third in the Big Ten in goals-against average (0.96). The Buckeyes have a +6 scoring margin in Big Ten play (18 GF, 12 GA) and are +15 for the season (32 GF, 17 GA). Ohio State is one of the youngest teams in the Big Ten with 18 players with freshman or sophomore eligibility.
Series: Michigan is 12-11-2 all-time against Ohio State but has lost the last five in the series. The Wolverines' last win came Oct. 12, 2008, in Ann Arbor (2-0). The Michigan senior class has never beaten Ohio State. The two teams met twice last season, with Ohio State winning, 3-1, during the regular-season meeting in Columbus (Oct. 18, 2012) and again in the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament, 2-1, in Bloomington, Ind. (Nov. 2, 2012).
LAST TIME OUT
Michigan swept its last regular-season road trip last weekend, setting program records in a 2-0 win at Illinois (Oct. 25) and a 3-0 win at Northwestern (Oct. 27). Five different players scored (Madisson Lewis and Holly Hein against Illinois; Cassie Collins, Meghan Toohey and Nicky Waldeck against Northwestern) [ Recaps: Illinois | Northwestern ]
Wed-Sun., Nov. 6-10 -- at Big Ten Tournament (Champaign, Ill.) [ Tournament Central ]
Depending on the results this weekend, the Wolverines will either be the No. 1 or No. 2 seed in the Big Ten Tournament, which begins next Wednesday (Nov. 6) in Champaign, Ill. The tournament field and schedule will be set following the Michigan/Ohio State match on Saturday night.
OTHER RELATED LINKS
The Yellow Armband (Wednesday)
Contact: Brad Rudner (734) 763-4423