Nov. 13, 2012
Ezurike Features: MGoBlue.com | ESPNW
THIS WEEK -- NCAA TOURNAMENT
Friday, Nov. 16 -- vs. No. 24 Portland - NCAA Tournament - Second Round (State College, Pa.), 5 p.m. [ Tournament Central | Live Stats | Live Video | Bracket ]
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The University of Michigan women's soccer team (15-5-2) continues its postseason run in the second round of the NCAA Tournament this weekend, facing No. 24 Portland (11-4-5) on Friday (Nov. 16) at Jeffrey Field in State College, Pa. The match will begin at 5 p.m.
It will be the second all-time meeting between Michigan and No. 4 seed Portland. Penn State is serving as the host site by virtue of being the No. 1 seed in the region. The winner of the Michigan/Portland match will face either Penn State or Boston College on Sunday (Nov. 18) at 7 p.m. in the third round, also in State College.
Michigan advances to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2003. With its win over Central Michigan, the Wolverines now hold a 10-9-1 record all-time in NCAA Tournament play. Michigan has reached the third round only twice in program history (2002, 2003).
The Wolverines' 15 wins this season are fourth most in program history and most since 2002 (16-7-1). Michigan won 18 matches in 1997 and 17 in 1999.
The Wolverines reached double-digit home wins for the second time in program history, finishing with a 10-1-0 record at the U-M Soccer Stadium. The record for most home wins in a season was 12, set in 2002.
Michigan is 4-1-2 in overtime matches this season and 2-0-1 in overtime matches played in the NCAA Tournament. U-M has played in seven overtime matches this season, the second-highest number of overtime matches played in a single season (2006, 2010). The program record is eight (2003).
Additionally, the Wolverines are 13-3-1 when scoring the match's first goal and 2-2-0 when the opponent scores the first, and also have one scoreless draw. U-M has only been shut out twice this season (Aug. 30 at Cal State Northridge, Sept. 28 vs. Iowa).
With her game-winning goal against Central Michigan, junior Nkem Ezurike tied a program record for consecutive matches with a goal (six). She shares the record with former Wolverines Therese Heaton (2002-05) and Abby Crumpton (1999-2002). Heaton scored seven goals over six games from Aug. 29-Sept. 17, 2004, while Crumpton did the same from Oct. 26-Nov. 16, 2001. Ezurike's scoring streak started Oct. 18 at Ohio State. In terms of single-season records, Ezurike is tied for third in goals (14) with Ruth Poulin (1997) and Kacy Beitel (1997), tied for second in game-winning goals (six) with Amber Berendowsky (1998) and 10th in points (29).
Fifth-year senior Clare Stachel became the 14th U-M player to score at least one goal this season. As a team, Michigan has 38 goals, its highest total in a single season since 2005 (39).
The Wolverines have only allowed 16 goals in 22 matches this season and could set a new program record for fewest goals allowed in a season. The current record is 18, which was set in 2010, but that was in only 19 matches (22 this season).
Against Central Michigan, fifth-year senior goalkeeper Haley Kopmeyer became the program's all-time leader of most minutes played by a goalkeeper (7,008 minutes). She holds program records in saves (372), saves per game (4.89), save percentage (.830), goals-against average (0.98) and shutouts (26.2).
Portland (11-4-5) advanced to the second round after getting by Washington State in the ninth round of penalty kicks in its first-round match last Friday (Nov. 9). The result of the match was a 2-2 draw, but Portland ended with a 6-5 advantage in PKs to move on. The Pilots are ranked No. 24 in last week's NSCAA D-I Collegiate Rankings, the last set of rankings for the regular season. Portland has made 20 NCAA Tournament appearances, including eight College Cup appearances and two national titles (2002, 2005).
Amanda Frisbie has started all 20 matches this season and leads the team in points (33), scoring 12 goals and contributing nine assists. Portland has three other players with double-digit point totals, including Kaila Cameli (8 G, 3 A), Michelle Cruz (5 G, 6 A), and Kendall Johnson (3 G, 5 A). Erin Dees is the primary goalkeeper, starting 17 matches and posting a 1.11 goals-against average and a .789 save percentage.
This will be the second all-time meeting between Michigan and Portland. The Pilots won the prior meeting, 3-0, at the 1996 Umbro Invitational in Seattle, Wash. (Oct. 6, 1996).
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Q: After Saturday's win, you tweeted that it was one of the happiest moments of your life. Describe the mood on the field, in the huddle and in the locker room after that win.
A: On the field, it was amazing. Everyone's emotions were running very high. The last 10 minutes, we were pushing to score, so just to get that goal was an amazing feeling. In the locker room, everyone was very happy. It was great to celebrate knowing we won as a team. One of our goals was to be the best team in the state of Michigan. It was something we thought we achieved already but to prove it again gave us a little extra sense of pride. Lastly, being able to send our seniors off the field with a win was huge for us. We didn't know if we were going to get another opportunity after that Illinois match. Knowing we had another chance at it gave us extra motivation, and I think we were all happy to give our seniors that last home win.
Q: Talk about the scoring chances in that match. The team had plenty of them. As a player, does it become frustrating when you fail to put away good scoring chances?
A: I think we were actually able to overcome it because we experienced it throughout the season. We've been unlucky at times this season, hitting so many posts and crossbars throughout, and having so many opportunities that don't go our way. I think because we went through matches like that, like against Illinois, we were able to overcome it. Yes, it's unlucky. Yes, it's frustrating, but we have to find a way to win, and we did.
Q: That was your first NCAA Tournament match. As a freshman, how different was that match from any of the others you played in this season?
A: It's another level. Ever since I was five years old, it's been my dream to be in an NCAA Championship match. To actually be there and go through it, the atmosphere was totally different. You realize the importance. One loss and you're out. We realize that we have the opportunity to do something special, especially with this team. It's awesome to be a part of it and it's very exciting.
Q: Earlier this season, you started out playing up top with Nkem, but over the last few weeks you have played more in the midfield. You're still attacking but does your mentality as a player change based on where you play on the field?
A: Wherever I am playing, soccer is still soccer, and a goal is still a goal. It's a simple game when you think of it that way. When I'm in the midfield, I have to be more defensive. You have to think differently at certain positions. The goal is the same no matter where you are, though. You want to fight hard and try and score goals. That never changes.
Q: Talk about the leadership of this senior class. They've been a huge part in the team's success this season.
A: Our seniors are amazing. I can't imagine having a better group of people to call captains. They are great in what they do on the field, and they're just as great off the field. I had a lot of adjusting to do to college, and they helped all the freshmen out a great deal, myself included. They are there for anything if we need them. Clare stepping up and scoring that goal was just awesome. It shows just how much they want it.
LAST TIME OUT
Michigan rallied from a 1-0 deficit to stun Central Michigan, 2-1, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last Saturday (Nov. 10) at U-M Soccer Stadium. Fifth-year senior Clare Stachel scored the game-tying goal with 40 seconds left, and junior Nkem Ezurike scored the game-winner in the 95th minute to propel Michigan to the second round. [ Recap | Highlights | Photo Gallery ]
Sunday, Nov. 18 -- NCAA Championships - Third Round (State College, Pa.)
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