In a rivalry game, the Michigan men’s soccer team gave Ohio State everything it had. Multiple near-misses and a couple late errors gave the Buckeyes the win, but the box score doesn’t tell the whole story for a struggling Wolverines squad.
Michigan’s 3-7-3 record is not representative of the team it is becoming on the field – a team with potential.
The Wolverines went down early but equalized in the second half with freshman forward Nicholas Kaloukian’s first career goal. Michigan then broke down, giving up two goals within a minute of each other near the 76th minute of play.
“I think from our perspective we’re on top of the game for most of the game,” Michigan coach Chaka Daley said. “But three shots, three goals.”
As any rivalry game goes, The Wolverines played hard and physical, but the balls just didn’t bounce their way against the Buckeyes. Daley believes that this team is close to winning many of these games against good teams, and the results of their recent games prove it.
“Three top 20 teams, Indiana, Ohio State and Maryland,” Daley said. “Large portions of all those games we were on top.”
The Wolverines have played tight with good Big Ten opponents, yet are falling short. In Michigan’s game against Indiana, it played back and forth, but ultimately allowed an equalizer late to end the game in a 2-2 draw. With Maryland, the Wolverines went into the half tied 1-1, but another late goal handed them a 2-1 loss.
While disheartening, the close losses and draws show Michigan that it can compete and possibly win these games as the season progresses. The Wolverines are converting on opportunities against ranked opponents, yet are simply not closing out their matches.
Michigan has proven that is has the pieces to complete a full game against strong opponents, it just needs to execute. Kaloukian is a prime example of a player who has been in the right position many times, but has come out with frustrating results.
“He’s been a little unlucky not to be on five, six, seven maybe eight balls to this point,” Daley said.
It’s a sigh of relief for the Wolverines to see their striker find the back of the net despite the poor outcome. Once Michigan starts to compile complete games and continues get some of these good chances to convert, it could be a scary team to face. With the main goal of any season being to peak come playoff time, Daley believes his team might do just that.
“We will hopefully get ourselves some points that can earn our way into the tournament,” Daley said. “I think we will shock some people.”
The Wolverines have shown they can compete against tough opponents, even if their record doesn’t show it. This showcase of ability is vital to a team like Michigan, one that has hopes to make a run come at the right time.