Fans at women's soccer game

Fans cheer on the University of Cincinnati women's soccer team on Sept. 12, 2021.

The Cincinnati Bearcats women's soccer team fell to the No. 16 Michigan Wolverines in a 2-1 battle at Gettler Stadium on Sunday. Coming into the match, Michigan had outscored opponents this season 15-6, with their offensive efforts dominating the games.

However, the first 45-minute half at Gettler saw the Bearcats flip the script; UC took the lead just under two minutes into play with a goal by Vanessa Dinardo. The Bearcats continued to surprise the Wolverines by controlling the ball throughout the first half. 

Entering the net at the 1:35 mark, Dinardo’s goal was the second quickest in school history. The Bearcats are now 4-3-1 for the season, while the Wolverines advanced 6-1-1. 

Although their record doesn’t currently include as many wins as they might have liked, the Bearcats are off to a uniquely hot start to their season. Having played just eight games thus far, UC has already endured a three-game win streak and broke the 2014 record for most goals scored in a Bearcat game.

Cincinnati’s head coach, Neil Stafford, admitted after the game that his team did a poor job balancing time spent defending and attacking, saying they spent too much time at the former. 

“Expectations need to be higher,” said Stafford of his Bearcats, who he said gave the ball away too much to a good opponent. 

The Wolverines had 12 shots taken to the Bearcats’ 11, with seven Michigan shots on goal to Cincinnati’s six. The Bearcats’ shots taken fared much better than the Wolverines’ previous opponent, Louisville, who only took six shots and allowed Michigan 24.

After the Bearcats left the first half with a 1-0 lead, the Wolverines brought the offensive in the second 45-minute period. In just over two minutes, the Wolverines scored two goals in the 61st and 63rd minutes, which ultimately decided the fate of the game.

Although ultimately falling short, the Bearcats had been looking for a bounce-back win against Michigan as they were coming off a 4-1 loss to future conference-mate Kansas. The Bearcats will be joining the Big 12 conference in the years to come, meaning Kansas and other prominent universities will become regular opponents.

“Our holistic approach to the student-athlete will be even more enhanced as we step up to this new level,” said Stafford on joining the Big 12. 

Cincinnati’s loss to Michigan was the women’s first game to take place since it was announced that UC would be joining the Big 12 conference. Michigan marked the end of the Bearcats non-conference play this season. Tulsa University will be coming to Gettler on Thursday to kick off conference play.

Following Tulsa’s conference play debut, the Bearcats take a trip to Philadelphia to play Temple University on Thursday, Sept. 23 at 7 p.m.

With more than half of the 2021 season remaining for the Bearcats, they are for now focused on an AAC title.