Despite gusting winds that affected play, the Michigan men’s soccer team beat Valparaiso, 1-0, Monday night.

Freshman midfielder Francis Atuahene continued his torrid scoring pace with his 10th goal of the season, providing the Wolverines the only tally they needed. Atuahene struck in the 50th minute off a crisp pass from senior forward William Mellors-Blair.

Michigan (2-1-2 Big Ten, 7-3-3 overall) controlled possession for most of the first half and outshot the Crusaders, 19-12, but the Wolverines were initially unable to finish their chances against Valparaiso (6-4-4).

The wind presented problems to both the Wolverines’ offense and defense.

“It was a grind,” Mellors-Blair said. “We played a lot of long balls, and the wind was killing that. With his leg and the wind, their keeper put a lot of pressure on our center-backs to make clearances.”

Redshirt sophomore midfielder Tyler Anderson provided Michigan with its first major opportunity eight minutes into the game when he unleashed a blast from 25 yards out that was saved by Valparaiso goalkeeper Nico Campbell.

Atuahene also generated two more early chances of his own, but both shots were deflected out of bounds.

Though Michigan headed into the locker room still needing to break the scoreless tie, the team was optimistic.

“The first half we had possession, and we knew we only needed one chance to score,” Mellors-Blair said.

Added Michigan coach Chaka Daley: “We created OK chances in the first half. There was a lot of stuff from distance. We encouraged the guys to be a little more patient and to pass it east and west.”

The Wolverines came out in the second half and continued their strong play, immediately controlling tempo and possession like they had in the first half.

But in the 50th minute, Atuahene broke the stalemate.

Mellors-Blair made a run down the right side before playing the ball into the box past a defender, where Atuahene buried the ball into the back of the net.

The freshman sensation now has goals in seven of the last eight games and is the nation’s seventh leading scorer.

When asked about Atuahene’s play, Daley was sure to pass the credit around.

“It’s not a one-man show,” Daley said. “He’s the beneficiary of a lot of good work. Francis was hungry enough to be in the right spot tonight.”

Valparaiso was unable to find an equalizer to Atuahene’s goal, and Michigan emerged with a win.

“I thought the guys played well,” Daley said. “We dominated the ball from start to finish.”

The Wolverines only have four games left before the Big Ten Tournament, but their coach certainly isn’t looking ahead after a game in which their play was not reflected on the scoreboard.

Next time, before they even think about the postseason, the Wolverines will have to convert their chances.

Correction appended: An earlier version of this story stated Atuahene was the nation’s leading scorer. He is seventh in the nation in scoring.


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