A foul that tipped the balance against Michigan

Tuesday, October 16, 2018 - 11:45pm

Senior defender Daniel Mukuna drew a foul in Michigan's loss to Notre Dame on Tuesday.

Senior defender Daniel Mukuna drew a foul in Michigan's loss to Notre Dame on Tuesday. Buy this photo
Carter Fox/Daily

Michigan dominated the game.

Wolverines coach Chaka Daley made sure to reiterate the point to hammer it home after the No. 18 Michigan soccer team fell to No. 16 Notre Dame, 2-1.

Michigan dominated the game.

Then the question rises, why did the Wolverines lose?

According to Daley, it comes down to a simple aspect of the game — fouls. Though foul trouble had plagued both teams, the untimeliness of them had disrupted the pace of play for Michigan.

“The game is inconsistent,” Daley said. “It disrupts your rhythm and flow and it makes you question what is a foul and what isn’t a foul.”

One foul in particular, though, changed the course of action for the Wolverines. After a half of well-played defense and pressure-filled offense, Michigan tied the game at 1-1 through the efforts of Jack Hallahan. The play shifted the momentum in favor of the Wolverines, who were due a goal after 12 shots, four of which were on goal.

But, Fighting Irish midfielder Aiden McFadden had other plans. Collecting a pass in the box, McFadden drew two defenders toward him. Instead of dribbling toward the goal though, he dribbled toward the top of the box, his back to the goal.

Despite the clear-fire signs that McFadden was not attempting a shot, senior defender Daniel Mukuna closed the distance between him and McFadden and put himself in a position for the referee to blow the whistle.

“Based on the video, maybe, maybe not,” Daley said. “It was a questionable call.”

Questionable or not, it was a poor decision by Mukuna to tackle the retreating midfielder. As his hands and feet made contact with McFadden, all Mukuna could do was quickly withdraw his hands and hold them in the air to plead his innocence.

But the whistle came, as did the imminent penalty kick.

Notre Dame’s Sean MacLeod stepped up for the kick and with a straightforward approach, kicked it low and center to score the game-winning goal.

“I think we put ourselves in that position where the ref could influence the game and unfortunately it didn’t go our way tonight,” Daley said. “I thought we played really well, I mean I thought we dominated them in every (way).

“I don’t know how many shots on goal they had, besides the (penalty kick). I don’t know how many shots to be honest that were actually on the target, and you know we had the balance of play for sure, certainly in the second half, and we’re just a little unfortunate.”

But the more dominant team in Daley’s mind, didn’t come out on top. All it took to swing the balance was a simple foul.

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