Atuahene’s offense leads Michigan past Detroit

Wednesday, September 28, 2016 - 11:52pm

Francis Atuahene scored the game-winning goal in Michigan's win against Detroit on Wednesday.

Francis Atuahene scored the game-winning goal in Michigan's win against Detroit on Wednesday. Buy this photo
File Photo/Daily

 

Michigan forward Francis Atuahene’s unyielding attack continues.

The sophomore scored a goal on four shots in Michigan’s (0-4 Big Ten, 1-6-3 overall) 2-0 victory over Detroit (0-2-1 Horizon, 1-5-3 overall).

Atuahene, the 2015 Big Ten Rookie of the Year, has been a fixture in the starting lineup since joining the Wolverines, starting in 22 of his 25 games played. In those games, Atuahene has been on the attack, demonstrating his speed, aggressiveness and passion.

“I’ve been playing soccer since I was very little, and that’s what brings joy to me,” Atuahene said. “I get excited when I’m on the field, and I’m passionate about it.” 

His jubilance and dominance have been evident since his rookie campaign, during which the Ghana native led Michigan in goals (10), shots on goal (28) and total shots (66). His stellar offensive impact led to him being awarded the 2015 team MVP.

Atuahene hasn’t slowed down in his second season. The sophomore currently ranks first in the Big Ten, and third in the nation, with 2.29 shot attempts per game prior to Wenesday night’s game.

And even with defenses tailoring their game plans to stop Atuahene, he still leads Michigan with three goals this season. In an offense that has been stagnant at times, one couldn’t tell by watching Atuahene. He constantly moves around, looking for openings and playing with enthusiasm.

Wednesday, that energy was pivotal for the Wolverines, who picked up their first win of the season. Atuahene’s constant pressure paid off in the 43rd minute of the first half, when he cut down the right side of the field and scored a header off of a corner kick by junior midfielder Tristan Jacobs. The goal ignited the Michigan side going into the second half.

“Scoring a goal just before halftime really gave the team a good lift and something to hang onto,” said Michigan coach Chaka Daley. “Francis went in and attacked (the service) and smashed it in the back of the goal. I think it was perfectly constructed from a set-piece situation.”

Atuahene’s success at the collegiate level shouldn’t come as a surprise based upon his impressive prep career. Atuahene got his collegiate opportunity through the Right to Dream Academy, a program that gives young African soccer players better exposure by bringing them to the United States. Through the program, Atuahene was granted a scholarship to play for The Hotchkiss School in Connecticut. There, he performed well enough to be the second-ranked senior in the country on College Soccer News’ player ranking.

Atuahene has made the most of the Right to Dream program and is very appreciative of the opportunity.

“Not everyone gets to play for the University of Michigan,” Atuahene said. “Anytime I’m on the field competing for my school and competing for my team, I’m very excited and I’m very energetic. I want to win for my team and just enjoy the game.”