Francis Atuahene’s shot powered off his laces and slid just beneath the crossbar. It was the Michigan men’s soccer team’s second goal Tuesday night, boosting the Wolverines to a 3-0 victory over Duquesne, and Atuahene’s ninth goal of his rookie season.
The freshman forward has been a force on Michigan’s roster ever since he stepped foot on Wolverine turf. In his debut match against then-No. 6 Creighton, Atauhene took two shots, one on net. He has upheld this tenacity and become one of Michigan’s top scoring threats.
“He’s been one of the most dominant players on the team and one of the most dangerous in the country,” said redshirt senior midfielder Colin McAtee.
McAtee, who finished with two bookend goals, worked closely with Atuahene all game, leading to the victory against the Dukes.
As the second freshman in Michigan men’s soccer history to score a hat trick, Atuahene has scored just over 40 percent of the team’s goals, contributing immensely to the Wolverines’ successful season thus far.
In the 2014 season, Michigan scored a grand total of 20 goals. Just halfway through the 2015 season, the Wolverines (6-3-3) have already exceeded that with 22. Much of this can be attributed not only to the team’s attack, but to the freshman class itself.
The freshmen have tallied half of Michigan’s goals this season. While many may be extremely impressed by such a statistic, Michigan coach Chaka Daley expected such influence early in their careers.
“We went through a transitional period here with Michigan soccer, and we didn’t bring them in to be freshmen,” Daley said. “We brought them in to play, and they’ve shown that they can come in and play.”
Daley also praised freshman midfielder Ivo Cerda, who’s had a lot of game time for a young player, and expects to see a lot from him for years to come. Rounding out the group on defense are freshmen Marcello Borges and Peter Brown, who are becoming more comfortable within the Wolverines’ defensive unit. Daley foresees expert play coming from them in the future, as well.
Such game-changing play, though, continues to come from Atuahene. Scoring in six of the last seven matches, Daley speaks highly of Atuahene but still looks for improvement in his consistency. Consistency, Daley believes, should come naturally as the season progresses through experience, comfort and hard work, the latter of which is something Atuahene is used to.
“He always has a smile on his face,” Daley said. “He works his butt off in class, he works his butt off in training, and the results are being shown on the field.”
And if Atuahene continues to prepare, these results should only improve over the next three years.
He’s only a freshman, after all.