Making An Impact: North grad Lang flourishes as freshman for Michigan women’s soccer

Michigan freshman Jenna Lang excelled in her role for the women’s soccer team this season.

The Columbus North graduate stepped up her game even more to become one of the key contributors off the bench for the Wolverines. She picked up some accolades along the way, and the former Bull Dog standout is looking well on her way to having an even bigger role next year.

When Lang stepped on the pitch for the first time with her Michigan teammates, one of the first things she had to adapt to quickly was the speed of the college game, which was much faster.

“Being around a lot of talented players, as well as being thrown into the midfield, is kind of one of the more hectic areas on the field,” Lang said. “Coming off the bench and being one of the game changers, I would have to be already in that mindset of being a starter on the field because I wouldn’t have the time to react to anything else. It’s automatically having that mindset coming from a bench position trying to already be involved already in the game and scoring on the field.”

Lang also mentioned confidence as being other key attribute in order for her to have success. While she wasn’t afraid to admit she was nervous, and her confidence level fluctuated throughout the season, she said it really came down to improving her own skills individually, while also getting instructions from the coaching staff and her upperclassmen.

“Ultimately, I just had to really focus in on some of those things that I needed to work on and try to have as much confidence as possible throughout the season,” Lang said. “I was in a familiar role with my position. It was just more of an unfamiliar setting and feeling of the college atmosphere and playing against a lot of very talented players.”

Michigan freshman and Columbus North graduate Jenna Lang takes a shot against Rutgers on October 20, 2022 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Michigan Photography

Michigan Photography

It didn’t take long for Lang to make her first impact for the Wolverines. In a game against Iowa State on Sept. 1, she scored her first collegiate goal.

Michigan coach Jennifer Klein, in her fifth season at the helm, said Lang’s ability to break pressure individually off the dribble, her range to pass the ball anywhere on the field and her ability to play over distance gives her a unique quality that other midfielders don’t possess.

“All of her technical and tactical qualities definitely give her that success, but I think it’s beyond what she’s able to do as a soccer player,” Klein said. “She has an unbelievable mentality and work rate. She came in very fit, which I think as a freshman when you come in fit, it allows for your soccer qualities and other qualities of your game to really shine. All of those things all together put her in a great position to be successful in her freshman year. Also, she is very, very good on set pieces.”

It would be over a month until Lang found the net again, but it came in a huge way. Down 2-1 to Rutgers on Oct. 20, she scored the game-tying and game-winning goals 2 minutes, 1 second apart late in the second half for a 3-2 comeback victory. She finished with three goals on the season.

For her efforts in that come from behind victory, Lang was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week in women’s soccer.

“Coach Klein had a lot of confidence in the freshmen this year,” Lang said. “Ultimately, it was on our own shoulders to make sure we were performing and having that confidence on the field to be calm, cool and collected on the ball under pressure and being able to perform.”

Division I programs are allowed eight hours per week during certain offseason periods, and Lang and the Wolverines have wrapped up those for 2022. They’ll resume eight-hour-per-week activities again in January before eventually shifting to 20-hour weeks and having spring related activities.

“For the spring, especially, we have a lot to work on. We have a class of 10 coming in next year, so it’ll be another young year,” Lang said. “We are just trying to get back to where the program has been the past couple years and try to strengthen some of our weaker spots. It’s trying to work on those key points that maybe we weren’t as strong in this year in the offseason. My class coming in and the class behind me will play a big role just because of how large our classes are.”

Lang hopes to help the team improve on this year’s 7-8-3 record and experience bringing the Big Ten title back to Ann Arbor after Michigan won in 2021.

“We definitely didn’t perform the way that we were hoping to throughout the season, but we all have the individual tools that we needed,” Lang said. “The freshman class was super-close. It took us a little bit to mix in with the upperclassmen. Once we did it, things started clicking a little more. Overall, it was pretty good.”

Klein is hoping the work Lang puts in during the offseason will lead to an even bigger role for her next year.

“Based off the experiences we were able to get her as a freshman and what role we feel that she’s going to play over the next three years is definitely a big one,” Klein said. “I think now it’s all about the work she does in this offseason and her continued commitment to grow and get better every single year. I think she has a very bright future and can be a very big influence and impactful player for us.”