- Teresa Mathew/Daily
By Jeremy Summitt, Daily Sports Editor
Published September 24, 2013
OAKLAND, Mich. — In a 0-0 overtime draw against Oakland on Tuesday, the Michigan men’s soccer team struggled to garner many quality chances, despite firing 17 shots. Quality over quantity is what Michigan coach Chaka Daley urged his squad to focus on offensively, but Michigan could muster just six strikes on goal.
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Nothing epitomized the Wolverines’ struggles more than when the Grizzlies’ goalkeeper, Sean Lewis, made his first save in the 59th minute of the match. After that, he coasted to a relaxing evening.
“There’s only one save I think I remember him making that I think he had to make,” Daley said.
There aren’t issues with the attacking build-up or the possession battle, though. Both of those went according to plan for the majority of the match.
Specifically in the overtime sessions, Michigan controlled the ball in the final third as it toyed with Oakland’s back line. The Wolverines continued to string creative passes together but could never break through.
Shots from sophomore midfielder Colin McAtee and senior forward Tyler Arnone barely crept wide, while others sailed over the crossbar at crucial moments. In the final 90 seconds, sophomore forward James Murphy’s header bounced off the crossbar before it was cleared to ensure extra time. The list of missed opportunities goes on and on. The Wolverines were close, but putting 31 percent of their shots on goal is far from desirable.
“I know them all,” Daley said. “I remember every single one of the missed chances in the 18, in and around the box, that were better than what you’d call half chances, and we didn’t take them.”
Michigan was often passive while peppering the Grizzlies’ defense, which hindered the chance for quality opportunities that Daley was looking for. Rightly so, frustration began setting in after regulation, as yellow cards were shown to Murphy and freshman defender Lars Eckenrode for retaliations in the offensive third.
“I thought we tried to be a little bit too precise at times in the final third, as opposed to kind of being a little more aggressive and assertive,” Daley said.
Similar offensive setbacks have plagued the Wolverines all season. Michigan has been shut out three times already this season with four goals in the past six games. A 5-2 thrashing of Loyola-Chicago in the season opener fooled everybody.
A 228-minute scoring drought before netting two goals at West Virginia this past weekend was the most recent episode of the Wolverines’ offensive shortcomings.
The woes are slowly turning into something resembling a crisis for Michigan. With Big Ten season looming this weekend, the Wolverines are urgently searching for answers.