BY JAKE FELDMAN AND BEN ESTES
Published September 23, 2009
Junior forward Justin Meram joined the Michigan men’s soccer team this season after a dominating two-year stint at Yavapai Junior College. He notched 50 goals in his time there, but entered last night’s game against Bowling Green with only two goals in a Michigan jersey.
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He had a lot of making up to do.
Meram was held out of the starting lineup due to soreness in his right quadriceps, and watched the Falcons take a quick 1-0 lead on a transition goal. Early on, the Wolverines struggled to penetrate a 4-4-3 defense, which clogs the middle of the field and forces the action outside.
Meram entered the match in the 32nd minute and changed the entire tone of the game by notching his first hat trick as a Wolverine. Michigan scored five unanswered goals in 22 minutes en route to a 5-1 victory.
“Justin’s a guy that scores, he never turns down an opportunity to shoot,” Michigan coach Steve Burns said. “And if you don’t buy a ticket, you’re never gonna win the lottery. He bought three of them.”
Meram punished the Falcons (1-5-2) at the UM Soccer Complex with his timely runs and fancy footwork, and tied the match at one in the 40th minute on a blast into the lower left corner.
“Today was about having a lot of fun,” Meram said. “We were down and I just wanted to get out there and have a positive attitude about it all — the injuries, not starting. Just have fun, go out there and contribute to the team and get a victory. ”
The equalizer seemed to energize the entire team, and Michigan (7-1) carried the momentum into the second half. In the 50th minute, Meram headed home the game winner off a beautiful cross from freshman defender Brian Klemczak.
Following an opponent’s goal, Burns emphasizes the importance of winning the ball back within five passes. His team answered that call last night. Just 28 seconds after Meram’s go-ahead goal, freshman midfielder Hamoody Saad added another, extending the lead to 3-1.
“This is a team that is starting to grow in confidence, and they recognize that they’re a second-half team,” Burns said. “We talked about how to beat this team. They’re going to have to walk off the field shattered, and I think they really took that to heart and really went after it for those first 10-12 minutes of the second half and put Bowling Green away.”
Meram capped his night with a one-timer in the 58th minute, and senior forward Mauro Fuzetti quickly followed by netting his team-leading seventh goal of the season. Since Sept. 4, the Wolverines have outscored their opponents 16-1 in the second half. Their late game heroics will be especially helpful Sunday, when Michigan enters Big Ten play with a road trip to Penn State.