For the Michigan men’s soccer team, overtime has become the norm.
In their first four games this season, the Wolverines went to overtime thrice. Friday, Michigan (0-1-0 Big Ten, 0-2-3 overall) once again found itself knotted after 90 minutes of play against Wisconsin (1-0-0 Big Ten, 2-1-1 overall).
Tied through the first overtime, the teams were still even, each sustaining some pressure in the opposing team’s zone. The Wolverines had a few shots near the Wisconsin net, but the momentum suddenly shifted back to the Badgers. A ball skipped just out of reach of a Wolverine defender, and 108 minutes into the game, Wisconsin’s Tom Barlow struck the loose ball into the back of the net — delivering Michigan yet another defeat, 2-1, at the hands of the Badgers.
“The overtime is a crazy thing in college soccer; one misstep, one slip, or anything like that and the game can go against you,” said Michigan coach Chaka Daley. “We’re very unfortunate, but that’s kind of the way soccer works. We could be on the other side of this result, much like I think four of the five other games as well, so we know we’re close and we just have to keep going and keep driving forward.”
The first half in Madison was all Badgers, as they launched an attack early on against the Wolverines. After sustained pressure throughout the first half, Wisconsin finally found the back of the net on a shot that dribbled just past junior goalkeeper Evan Louro. The Badgers continued to dominate the rest of the half, outshooting Michigan 10-3 before halftime.
Following the break, though, something clicked for the Wolverines. After fending off an early attack, the Wolverines were able to move the ball up the field, and in the 47th minute, sophomore midfielder Francis Atuahene evened the score with a ball from sophomore defenseman Marcello Borges.
“We got off to a little bit of a slow start,” Daley said. “But as the game went on, we got better and better and actually dominated proceedings throughout the whole second half.”
The Wolverines had a few more chances the rest of the half, outshooting the Badgers 12-7 in total for the period. But neither team scored again in regulation, and Michigan found itself in overtime, once again.
In the first overtime, the Wolverines came out strong, hitting four shots to Wisconsin’s one. But despite Michigan’s pressure, the score remained tied, and the teams went on to the second overtime, when the Wolverines gave up the game-deciding goal.
Despite the close games so far, Daley still thinks there is room for a successful Big Ten season. The Wolverines’ next game is against No. 4 Indiana, but Daley said he believes nine of Michigan’s remaining 12 games are winnable.
“The harder you work, the more luck you have,” Daley said. “So we just continue to work and continue to drive forward.”