ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Senior Clare Stachel scored the game-tying goal with 40 seconds remaining in regulation, sending the game to overtime. Junior Nkem Ezurike scored the game-winner in the 95th minute to lift Michigan past Central Michigan 2-1 on Saturday in the first round of the NCAA Championship at U-M Soccer Stadium. It is Michigan’s first NCAA tournament win since 2003.
After the Wolverines failed to convert on two corner kicks in the opening two minutes, Central Michigan took an early lead with a goal from Laura Gosse. The Chippewas were awarded a throw-in on the left flank, where Bailey Brandon sent a long throw into the Michigan penalty area and the ball bounced in front of the Michigan goal and into the net.
Ezurike and freshman Cassie Collins combined for the Wolverines’ best chance of the opening frame in the 24th minute. Ezurike made a save at the end line and she played a pass back into the middle of the penalty area to Collins, who hit a low shot off the left post.
Five minutes later, Holly Hein received a ball on the back post off a long corner kick and sent a cross into the middle of the box where junior Meghan Toohey headed the ball off the crossbar.
Michigan nearly got on the board again in the 68th minute when freshman Corinne Harris played a ball to Ezurike, who held off her defender and fired a left-footed shot that hit the crossbar. Six minutes later, Harris and Ezurike combined for a give-and-go in the box, where Harris got behind the defense and slotted the ball into the net, but the goal was called back for offside.
The Wolverines loaded the Central Michigan end of the field with attackers in the final minutes and broke through with Stachel’s goal in the final minute of regulation. From nearly 40 yards out, sophomore Chloe Sosenko sent in a feed, which Stachel met with a header that bounced off the crossbar and into the net. The goal is Stachel’s first of the season and sent the match to overtime tied at one.
Five minutes into extra time, senior Emily Jaffe received the ball at the top of the 18-yard box and sent it towards the Central Michigan goal. Her shot was deflected to Ezurike, who slotted a left-footed shot into the bottom-left corner of the net to give U-M the 2-1 win.
Michigan outshot Central Michigan, 24-14, and held the edge in corner kicks 11-1.
Senior Haley Kopmeyer recorded three saves in the contest.