It was a battle between two of the Big Ten Conference’s best. The No. 18 Hopkins women’s lacrosse team travelled to Ann Arbor, Michigan to face off the undefeated No. 8 University of Michigan Wolverines.
The Blue Jays were first on the board, taking possession after a Wolverine turnover with sophomore attacker Shelby Harrison capitalizing on a free position shot to take a 1-0 lead. Junior attacker Maggie Schneidereith would add another goal for the Blue Jays five minutes later off of senior attacker Miranda Ibello’s assist to give Hopkins a two-goal advantage, but it would only last 11 seconds before Michigan would enter the scoring fray to cut the deficit to one.
Sophomore midfielder Aurora Cordingley would give the Jays back their two-goal lead with help from another Ibello assist, and junior midfielder Lexi Souder would widen the gap to three less than two minutes later with help from senior attacker Nicole Demase. The Wolverines’ Chandler Kirby would answer for Michigan as the midfielder worked through the Hopkins defense and delivered a strike into the net.
Demase would add one more goal for the Jays with 10:21 left on the clock to put the count at 5-2, but Michigan would end the half on a 4-0 run, including two from attack Caitlin Muir, to give Michigan a 6-5 lead going into the half.
Although trailing by five in shots on goal, Hopkins was able to make almost all of their first half shots count, putting away five of their six attempts. They also were stout in net as well, with senior goalkeeper Haley Crosson recording five saves in the first 30 minutes. The big difference against the Blue Jays came in the turnover column, as Michigan forced 11 Hopkins turnovers while only surrendering five.
Muir would open the second half just as she had ended the first half and would rifle a shot into the cage just 15 seconds after the whistle to give Michigan a two-goal lead.
The next six goals would ping pong back and forth between the teams as they each showed their offensive prowess. Harrison would issue the responding strike for the first Blue Jay goal of the second half and after midfielder Maggie Kane put away a goal for the Wolverines, Schneiederith would take advantage of a yellow card on Michigan and score on the man-up opportunity. Midfielder Nadine Stewart would score on a free position shot to once again establish a two-goal Wolverine lead, to which Souder answered by burying a shot with another assist by Ibello.
Kane would break the back-and-forth trend with back-to-back goals as the sophomore scored two goals within 40 seconds to give the Wolverines their largest lead to that point of the game.
Schneidereith would cut the lead to two, but it would be the only Blue Jay goal for almost nine minutes as Michigan would rattle off five straight goals to take a 16-9 lead with just 3:43 left in the matchup. Despite a couple of late-game goals by the Blue Jays from Cordingley and Ibello, it wasn’t enough to overcome the deficit, as Hopkins fell to Michigan by a score of 16-11.
Michigan’s second half surge came from a combination of effective offensive play coupled with solid goaltending. All 10 of the Wolverines’ shots on goal found twine while the goalie tandem of seniors Alli Kothari and Mira Shane combined for six saves to help neutralize the high-octane Blue Jay attack.
The maize and blue were led by a seven-point outing by Muir, which included six goals, whereas Ibello notched six points with her five assist and a goal outing.
With the win, Michigan keeps their undefeated record intact and improves to 13-0 overall and 3-0 in the Big Ten while Hopkins moves to an 8-3 overall record and a 1-1 record in Conference play.
Hopkins was able to rebound on Tuesday when they faced off against the Towson University Tigers. The Blue Jays were able to jump on the Tigers early, taking a 7-2 lead in the first half on the back of two goals each from DeMase and Souder.
Schneidereith and Cordingley led the pack with three points each and also tied with Souder and DeMase for the lead in goals with two. Barger’s seven forced-turnover effort set a school record and the team combined to force 19, the most since 2003.
After a tough loss to a great Michigan team, Souder and the rest of the Blue Jays knew that they needed to regroup and come out strong against Towson.
“Obviously, losing to Michigan was not on our game plan, but Michigan has remained undefeated this season for a reason. Going into the Towson game, we had some serious talks as a team about focusing on ourselves and not letting the other team dictate the pace at which we play,” Souder said. “We were able to link together several plays that helped us pull out the win on Tuesday night against Towson. It was super exciting to witness Keegan Barger set a school record by causing seven turnovers in one game!”
The Hopkins defense was relentless in the second half and gave Towson no room to breathe, surrendering just one goal in the second thirty on four shots while three different Blue Jays, Schneidereith, Cordingley and sophomore midfielder Keegan Barger increased the deficit to seven, improving to 9-3 on the season as they defeated their Baltimore rivals 10-3.
A big win against an arch rival might be just what Hopkins needs as they near the end of the season and looks to make a push for the Big Ten Conference Tournament.
“As the number of games left in regular season play has come to single digits, we are focusing on enjoying the time that we have left with our seniors. We have goals of returning to the Big Ten Tournament, which will be held here at Homewood Field. As a team, we would love nothing more than to have home field advantage in the Big Ten Tournament,” she said.
With the Wildcats coming to Baltimore riding a four-game winning streak, during which they’ve scored a combined 83 goals, Souder knows that the team will need to be dialed in all facets of the game, especially on defense.
“We are looking forward to another Big Ten game this Saturday against Northwestern,“ Souder said. “Going into the game, we will need to focus on the defensive end of our game, as Northwestern scores on average 19 goals per game. It will be an exciting Homecoming weekend!”
The Blue Jays will next be in action on Homewood Field when they take the field against the University of Northwestern Wildcats this Saturday at 10:00 a.m.