In a matchup of the Big Ten’s top two teams, the No. 14 Michigan men’s soccer team fell to No. 2 Indiana in a defensive battle that ended with a final score of 1-0.
Michigan (8-2-1 overall, 3-1-1 Big Ten), which entered the game riding a nine-game unbeaten streak, looked upon its defense to halt the Indiana attack, and through the majority of the game the back line held strong. But Indiana (10-2-0, 4-0-0) only needed one defensive lapse to capitalize.
Ten minutes into the second half, following 55 minutes of organized and composed defending by the Wolverines, the Hoosiers earned their chance to break the scoreless game open. Indiana midfielder Griffen Dorsey made a run into Michigan’s third of the field and slipped past two defenders to find midfielder Rece Buckmaster trailing behind in open space. With nobody marking him, Buckmaster fired the ball into the bottom corner of the net, past Michigan sophomore goalkeeper Henry Mashburn’s outstretched glove.
“In our moment of — if you call it a moment of weakness, it’s not really a moment of weakness — (Dorsey) does a good job,” said Michigan coach Chaka Daley. “He’s a big-time player, (he) tucks in, beats a guy, skips by (sophomore defender Jackson Ragen) and sets (Buckmaster) over here and he scores a great goal.”
Despite giving up the goal, Michigan’s defense remained composed and organized throughout the game. Ragen and senior defender Daniel Mukuna were especially impressive; both consistently making well-timed tackles, blocks and clearances that stalled Indiana’s attack time and time again, while both senior Marcello Borges and sophomore Austin Swiech did a good job of containing Indiana’s attack on the wings. Mashburn also had a solid game, tallying four saves.
Indiana’s back line found a way, however, to outshine Michigan’s and conceded no space for the attack to create meaningful chances. There were moments when Michigan tested the Hoosier defense, but these occasions were extinguished.
“Down the stretch, while we had a lot of the ball, while we put them under duress, I don’t know if we really gave them a ton of, what I would call, stress or working the goalkeeper late in the game,” Daley said. “Although we had a lot of the ball, and we started to put it in, I think they did a good job of protecting the lead…But certainly we’re disappointed we didn’t find a way today.”
Overall, the match was well-balanced and competitive until the final whistle. Neither team dominated possession early on, as both played back-and-forth with each defense curtailing attacking chances. Indiana’s counter-attack showed flashes of danger at times, but the Wolverines maintained their shape and protected the net — until the goal in the 55th minute.
After Indiana scored, though, Michigan adjusted its attack to be more proactive. With more urgency, the Wolverines got the ball into the box and did what they could, but Indiana conceded few opportunities other than a handful of chances that failed to test sophomore goalkeeper Trey Muse.
“There’s nothing to improve upon, except just staying sharper, you know what I mean, in those big moments,” Daley said. “They played in the national final, they have five redshirt seniors, eight seniors starting.
“When you kind of knock it down, it’s a pretty experienced group, and we had our way at ‘em. We had a go at them. They found a way today, and that’s what, you know, experience will do sometimes, and we’ll get better as a result of this.”