Trailing 1-0 in the 66th minute, junior forward Evan Rasmussen slid the ball past the New Hampshire defenders to sophomore midfielder Bryce Blevins. Blevins took aim from inside the 18-yard box and fired a shot into the left-side netting, failing to put it on target.
Blevins’s scoring opportunity was one of many for the Michigan men’s soccer team (2-2-1) in the second half, but none found the back of the net. As such, No. 12 New Hampshire (5-0-0) escaped Ann Arbor with a 1-0 victory over the Wolverines.
New Hampshire’s single goal came off of a corner kick in the 38th minute. The ball took a deflection in Michigan’s box, falling at the feet of Wildcat junior Bilal Kamal, who then swiftly placed it in the top right corner of Michigan’s net.
With the Wolverines losing 1-0, Blevins’s opportunity sparked a momentum change in U-M Soccer Stadium. The fans got louder and the offense opened up for the Wolverines. A mere two minutes after Blevins’s chance, fifth-year defender Austin Swiech fired a shot on goal after the ball landed at his feet following a Michigan corner kick. New Hampshire goalkeeper Jassem Koleilat saved the shot, but it bounced back to Rasmussen for another opportunity. Koleilat was there to make the save yet again, keeping the lead intact for the Wildcats.
“I think we absolutely tore them apart (in the second half),” Michigan coach Chaka Daley said. “They were fortunate to get out of here. But, the game is about margins. They had a real chance to miss in the first half, a half-chance they scored on, and we had five legit chances in and around the box in the second half.”
The Wolverines finished the game with 10 shots, eight of which came in the second half. New Hampshire finished with 11 shots, five of which came in the second half.
Despite the loss, there were many positives for the Wolverines to build off of going forward.
Rasmussen displayed a knack for finding the ball in scoring positions throughout the game, as his three shots led the Wolverines. His best chance came in the 85th minute when he found the ball at his feet shortly after a Michigan free kick was played into the box. Rasmussen fired a rocket toward the top left corner of the net, but Koleilat managed to tip it over the crossbar for a Michigan corner kick.
Another bright spot for the Wolverines was the talent on display by their underclassmen.
Freshman defender Jason Bucknor swept past opposing players with the ball at his feet, making it look easy in the process. After pushing up the field in the 84th minute, he played a cross into the middle of the box that could have produced a goal on another day.
Despite pushing forward into the attack, Bucknor’s most notable moment came in the Wolverines’ defensive third. With a Wildcat pressuring him from behind, Bucknor displayed some flair, flicking the ball into the air and clearing it with an impressive overhead kick.
Another underclassman with an impressive performance was freshman goalkeeper Hayden Evans. In the 84th minute, New Hampshire forward Victor Menudier got on the end of a long pass and found himself one-on-one with Evans. Evans stayed composed, managing to deflect Menudier’s shot to the right of the net, and ultimately finished the game with four saves.
Despite some strong performances, this young Wolverine team ultimately fell short Friday.
“Everything is not always going to go your way. And again, that doesn’t mean you need to concede goals, right, or concede momentum,” Daley said. “You’ve still got to be comfortable in your own skin if things are against you. Just kind of weather the storm, a little bit, and that comes with a little bit of maturity.”