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In its scoreless draw against Bowling Green, the Michigan men’s soccer team had a clear approach: bend but don’t break.

Led by sophomore goalkeeper Hayden Evans, the Wolverines repeatedly managed to keep the ball away from their own net, even as the Falcons continued to reach the last line of defense.

“(Evans) played big and made a couple of really big saves there,” Michigan coach Chaka Daley said. “(The saves) were really solid. … He did what he was supposed to do.”

So far this season for Michigan, Evans has been solid, allowing four goals through four games. On Sunday, he put together a shutout with a six-save performance — his second clean sheet in four games. Despite only being a sophomore, Evans is flourishing and still has room to develop.

“He’s a sophomore, he’s a work in progress,” Daley said. “(He’s) really youthful and learning and growing and just learning how to manage a little bit.”

Although Daley referred to Evans as a “work in progress,” he was still pleased with his goalkeeper’s development as a leader on the team’s defense.

“It’s the hardest thing to do when you’re around your peers to tell people what to do,” Daley said. “So I think that takes some time.”

As Evans continued to cement his role as a defensive anchor, the rest of the defense followed suit. 

Daley was quick to praise his team’s ability to keep the Falcons away from scoring opportunities despite Bowling Green’s dominance in transition and on the stat sheet. The Falcons outshot the Wolverines 15-5 and landed six shots on goal compared to just one for Michigan in a game that mostly took place in its own third.

“They’re three-five-two, they’re direct,” Daley said, referring to Bowling Green’s formation. “We’re three-four-three. We’re trying to play between, so (there are) a lot of transitional moments. I think (the shot differential) was more that than anything.”

And those transitional moments led to some close calls for the Wolverines.

Bowling Green midfielder Kale Nichols received a cross early in the second half that he missed on, and although the shot didn’t register as a shot on goal the chance was still significant: Michigan allowed the opposing offense to get a good look at its goalkeeper.

Later in the half, Nichols struck again, and Michigan allowed another incredibly good look. Evans had to make a desperate sprawling attempt at the ball in the 84th minute in order to keep the score tied. The save had the home crowd on their feet and signaled a draw was on the way for the Wolverines.

Evans and the defense poured in a strong performance Sunday. In order for Michigan to get that elusive first win of the season, the defense will need to continue its strong effort.