Soccer: #21 Michigan Hangs On To Beat #23 Nebraska In A Sunday Thriller

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

After going down 2-0 in the second half, a Jordan Jackson header made things interesting but the Huskers couldn't finish their scoring chances in their first conference loss of the season.

First Half

The match kicked off under chilly and really windy conditions at the Nebraska Soccer Field.  Leading goal scorer Jaycie Johnson made her way back into the starting lineup after not playing the last few games.  Michigan got an early chance on a free kick in the 2nd minute when a cross into the box was deflected by Nkem Ezurike but Emma Stevens dove to her left to make the comfortable.

Four minutes later, Jaylyn Odermann made a mazy run through midfielder and set up a nice back heel for Caroline Gray which went wide.  Michigan had their best scoring chance of the half five minutes later when a corner from Shelina Zadorsky was headed off the crossbar by Holly Hein and cleared away by the Huskers.  Megan Toohey had a chance for the Wolverines in the 20th minute when ran in from the left wing but her low shot was saved comfortably by Stevens.

Less than two minutes later, a curling free kick from Caroline Gray was parried away at the near post by Taylor Bucklin.  After a few substitutions, Nebraska had another scoring chance in the 34th minute after a scramble in the box but Jaycie Johnson fizzed a shot wide.  Despite a scoreless first half, the match was very lively with a lot of fast ball movement and end to end action by both teams.  Michigan controlled the ball in the Nebraska half for a majority of play though the Huskers still created some scoring chances.

Second Half

Nebraska started off brightly in the second half but Michigan opened the scoring in the 54th minute.  Freshman forward Madisson Lewis controlled the ball and burst down the left wing on the counter before crossing the ball in front of the net where senior forward Nzem Ezurike tapped it in at the back post.  Michigan doubled their lead four minutes when a throw was just partially cleared by the Husker defense and Madisson Lewis took advantage by heading it into the bottom left corner.

In the blink of an eye, Nebraska's winning streak was in jeopardy.  Michigan kept piling on the pressure in the 70th minute when a Meghan Toohey laid a nice through ball for Nkem Ezurike but despite having lots of time and space the senior her shot whistled over the crossbar and the score remained 2-0.

Four minutes later Nebraska cut the Wolverine lead in half.  Sydney Miramontez ran through the heart of the midfield by cutting it to Courtney Claassen on the right wing.  Claassen floated a nice cross into the box just sailed over the heads of two Nebraska players but not past Jordan Jackson who connected perfectly and buried a header into the bottom corner with 15 minutes to play.  Michigan began to sit back and invite more Nebraska pressure as they pushed for an equalizer.

Jackson had another chance in the 82nd minute but this time her header from a Caroline Gray cross sailed over the bar.  With Nebraska pushing for an equalizer, keeper Emma Stevens spent a lot of time way out of the net ready to boot any incoming ball back into the attacking half.

It nearly cost her in the 85th minute when Ezurike was left all alone with a gaping net but booted her shot just wide of the right post.  A minute later the Huskers were on the attack again as Mayme Conroy drove through a midfield and left a perfect through ball for Jaycie Johnson who clipped her shot inches wide of the left post.

With 20 seconds left, Emma Stevens booted a free kick in the penalty area which was flicked towards the far post by Jordan Jackson and Ari Romero rushed over and swung a shot into the side-netting.  Michigan hung on for a 2-1 victory but credit to Nebraska for fighting to the bitter end.

Post-Game Notes

-Jordan Jackson and Sydney Miramontez did an excellent job in the second half of controlling the midfield and creating scoring chances for the Huskers.  Despite Michigan dominating the first half and part of the second half, the Huskers really came alive in the last 25 minutes as Michigan sat back and soaked up the pressure.

-Michigan was very physical in this match out-fouling Nebraska 12-4 in the match.  Nkem Ezurike used her strength to give herself more space and create scoring chances for the Wolverines.

-Michigan outshot Nebraska 15-13 with both teams having four shots on target.

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