Michigan falls to No. 8 Maryland at home. Tess Crowley/Daily. Buy this photo.

The Michigan men’s soccer team has struggled to put on a consistent performance in recent weeks. The Wolverines have at times looked underwhelming, but at times displayed a grit not normally seen by such a young team. 

On Friday, Michigan (2-4-1 overall, 0-1-0 Big Ten) looked competitive and generated strong scoring chances, but ultimately fell to No. 8 Maryland (4-1-1, 1-0-0) 2-1, despite outshooting its opponents.  

“When two teams are pretty even, games come down to moments,” Michigan coach Chaka Daley said. “There’s probably three or four moments in every half and they won one more moment than we did.”

Michigan started strong by winning those moments early, immediately applying pressure on the Terrapins’ defense. The Wolverines spent much of the first half in the attacking third, looking for openings. And though an early trio of corner kicks came up empty, the momentum was entirely in Michigan’s favor. Maryland had to try to beat the defense vertically, using high lobs with a low chance of scoring success. 

“We used to play a little bit higher up the field pressing at the top eighteen, and kind of withdrew that a bit to see if their center backs could dictate, and then they had no solutions,” Daley said.

This defensive approach forced the Terrapins to try and beat Michigan with lobbing set pieces, bypassing the first set of defenders. In the 30th minute, Maryland won its first moment. A lob finally worked, and defender Chris Rindov headed the ball past sophomore goalkeeper Hayden Evans.

The Wolverines responded almost immediately. 

Senior forward Inaki Rodriguez took advantage of a mental lapse the very next minute. He intercepted a pass from the Terrapins’ goalie, and quickly buried it in the net. Michigan continued to press forward and looked primed to take the lead behind constant pressure and a barrage of corners. These chances ultimately came up empty but the Wolverines ended the half with the confidence that Maryland couldn’t penetrate their defense scheme. 

But as the second half began, it became clear that Maryland adjusted to Michigan’s defensive pressure. 

“In the second half, they took some guys and played them a little bit higher, and then played the balls in there,” Daley said. “And when they dropped they were closer. They solved it a little bit.”

The Terrapins created lasting pressure and numerous shots on goal, and the Wolverines were much more hard-pressed on the defensive end. Michigan eventually caved in to that pressure in the 67th minute, allowing a rebound goal by forward Stefan Copetti. 

The Wolverines put together a few more attacks in the waning minutes of the game, but were ultimately unable to find the tying goal. 

Yet, for Daley, the takeaways for the team were largely positive. Michigan was in the game for its entire duration, winning more corners and taking as many shots on goal in the process. That’s a giant step forward for a team that was shutout by Marquette just two weeks ago.

“We were trying to figure it out the first couple of weeks, but it’s great to appreciate how far we’ve come,” Daley said. “I’m really proud of the group, and really pleased with the effort.”

But with the bulk of Big Ten play fast approaching, the Wolverines have to win the small moments they lost on Friday to make noise in the conference.