Nov. 26, 2013
With a trip to the Women's College Cup on the line, the No. 11-ranked University of Michigan women's soccer team (18-3-1) faces its toughest test to date when it challenges No. 1 Virginia (23-1-0) in the quarterfinals of the 2013 NCAA Tournament on Friday (Nov. 29) in Charlottesville, Va. The first-ever match between the two programs will begin at 7 p.m. at Klöckner Stadium.
Michigan is making its second-ever appearance in the NCAA Quarterfinals, having reached the Elite Eight only one other time (2002). A win on Friday over Virginia would push Michigan through to the Women's College Cup for the first time in program history.
Last Sunday's 1-0 victory over No. 23 Notre Dame in the Sweet 16 gave Michigan its 18th victory of the season, which ties the program record for most wins in a single season (1997).
The Wolverines enter Friday's contest seeking their first win over a top-ranked team in program history. Michigan has faced the No. 1 team in the country on five previous occasions, going 0-4-1 in those contests. The last time U-M faced a team ranked No. 1 was Sept. 17, 2006, vs. Notre Dame. This season, Michigan is 5-0-1 against ranked opponents.
Greg Ryan is making his fifth appearance as head coach in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament. He had four quarterfinals appearances as head coach at Wisconsin, taking the Badgers to the Elite Eight in 1988, 1990, 1991 (national runner-up) and 1993 (College Cup).
Out of 323 schools, U-M ranks fourth in fewest goals allowed (10), fifth in save percentage (.893) and sixth in goals-against average (0.45). Freshman goalkeeper Taylor Bucklin is fourth nationally in save percentage (.893) and fifth in goals-against average (0.40). Thanks in large part to that defense, Bucklin has recorded 12 shutouts this season, the most in a single season in program history, surpassing former goalkeepers Haley Kopmeyer (2012) and Suzie Grech (2001), who each had 11. Additionally, the U-M defense is on pace to break the single-season record for fewest goals allowed, which was set last season (17).
Against Illinois State last Friday (Nov. 22), Nkem Ezurike became the program's career leader in points. She has 117 points in 78 career matches (program-best 1.50 points-per-game average), surpassing Abby Crumpton (1999-02), the previous record holder with 116. Ezurike, also the program's career leader in goals (49), recorded nine shots vs. Notre Dame last Sunday (Nov. 24), setting the single-season record (102). She also holds the program record for most goals scored in the NCAA Tournament (five).
Three players have recorded four or more points through the 2013 NCAA Tournament: Nkem Ezurike (3 G), Madisson Lewis (1 G, 2 A) and Meghan Toohey (2 G, 1 A). Goalkeeper Taylor Bucklin and U-M defense currently has a shutout streak of 298:42 and has recorded clean sheets in each of the team's first three NCAA Tournament matches.
The seven-member senior class has won 53 career matches, tied for the fourth highest by a senior class in program history. The Class of 2000 was the most successful class, winning 62 matches. Since the beginning of last season, Michigan has won 34 matches, the most number of wins in a two-year stretch in program history.
U-M has 136 points (44 G, 48 A) this season, the fourth-best total in program history and most since 2002 (141). Additionally, Michigan is ranked No. 13 in the nation in assists, recording the most helpers in a season since 2002 (51) in program lore. Four players have registered six or more assists this season; Nkem Ezurike, Madisson Lewis and Shelina Zadorsky each have nine, while Corinne Harris has six. Only five players in program history have recorded double-digit assists in a season (none since 2002): Amber Berendowsky (17 -- 1997), Abby Crumpton (13 -- 2002), Kacy Beitel (13 -- 2000), Emily Schmitt (13 -- 1999) and Amy Sullivant (11 -- 2002).
The Wolverines closed out the 2013 home slate with a 12-1-1 record at U-M Soccer Stadium, tying a program record for most home wins in a season. Additionally, last Sunday's victory over Notre Dame extended Michigan's home unbeaten streak vs. non-conference opponents to 20 (19-0-1), not having lost a home match outside the Big Ten since Aug. 19, 2011 (Akron, 1-0). Since 2010, Michigan is 32-8-6 (.813) at U-M Soccer Stadium, including a 22-2-2 mark in the last two seasons.
Fourteen different players have recorded at least one goal this season (last: Corinne Harris vs. Ohio State) and 16 different players -- more than half the roster -- have recorded at least one point.
The Wolverines are 7-3 in matches decided by one goal this season and 15-0-0 when scoring the first goal of the match (2-3-0 when opponent scores first). In addition, Michigan has scored more than one goal in 15 of its 18 wins and has not yielded more than one goal in any contest all season.
Virginia enters Friday's contest with a 23-1-0 record and is the overall No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Cavaliers defeated St. Francis (Pa.), 5-0, in the first round, Georgetown, 1-0, in the second round and Wake Forest, 2-0, in the third round. They are seeking their first Women's College Cup trip since 1991 and are 16-0-0 at home this season. Virginia's only loss of the season came in the ACC Tournament semifinals to Virginia Tech (4-2 on Nov. 8).
The Cavaliers lead the nation in offense, scoring 3.29 goals per game and having outscoring opponents by a 75-14 margin. They have scored more than two goals in 20 of their 23 wins this season. Seven players have double-digit point totals, but the main cogs in the attack are midfielder Morgan Brian (15 G, 14 A) and forward Makenzy Doniak (19 G, 5 A). Brian, who has three caps with the U.S. Women's National Team this year, was named a finalist for the U.S. Soccer Young Female Athlete of the Year Award last week. The Cavaliers are stout defensively, as well, allowing a little more than five shots per match. Goalkeeper Morgan Stearns has allowed only 11 goals all season to headline a defense that also features former Michigan State defender Annie Steinlage, who transferred to Charlottesville for her final season of eligibility.
Series: Friday's matchup will be the first in the series between Michigan and Virginia.
LAST TIME OUT
The Wolverines hosted the second and third rounds of the NCAA Tournament for the second time in program history last weekend, defeating Illinois State, 3-0, and No. 23 Notre Dame, 1-0, to advance to the quarterfinals. [ Illinois State: Recap | Highlights | Photos :: Notre Dame: Recap | Highlights | Photos ]
Friday, Dec. 5 -- at NCAA College Cup (Cary, N.C.), 5 p.m./7:30 p.m.
Contact: Brad Rudner (734) 763-4423
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