Despite its winning record heading into Friday’s matchup against No. 12 New Hampshire, the Michigan men’s soccer team had yet to play a complete game well. The Wolverines’ slow starts have led to missed opportunities and have forced them to play catch-up with the opposing team. Michigan hoped to change this narrative, but this game was no different, as the team fell, 1-0.
The Wolverines’ offense struggled mightily in the first half. They were unable to convert on passes in the offensive zone, allowing the Wildcats to take the ball up the field and into Michigan’s final third for most of the first half. The Wildcats dominated in the Wolverines’ box, creating numerous scoring chances, but Michigan held them off with timely saves and great stops by freshman goalkeeper Hayden Evans and fifth-year defender Austin Swiech.
In the 38th minute, New Hampshire punished the Wolverines for their inability to retain possession and take shots. Midfielder Bilal Kamal’s goal put New Hampshire up 1-0, and it appeared as if the Wildcats were going to walk away handedly with a win.
At halftime, though, Michigan came out of the tunnel looking like a completely different team.
“I think we absolutely tore them apart in the second half,” Michigan coach Chaka Daley said. “They were fortunate to get out of here with a win.”
The team’s fire and poise were plain to see. The Wolverines tallied eight shots in the second half, which created many scoring opportunities. But even with the dominant second half, Michigan was unable to equalize.
Twenty-two minutes into the second half, Michigan had the ball in the Wildcats’ zone. Effective passing led to a shot on target by Swiech that rebounded off of New Hampshire goalkeeper Jassem Koleilat. The rebound led to an even better chance by junior forward Evan Rasmussen, but the rebound opportunity went over the crossbar.
“We had five legit chances in and around the box in the second half,” Daley said. “I’m not discouraged in any way, shape or form: for a group like that (New Hampshire) to come in here with all those players with good experience and for us to take it to them in the second half, I’m encouraged, not discouraged.”
Even with Daley’s words, Michigan has struggled to score offensively throughout the season, scoring only five goals in five games. If the Wolverines want to remain competitive in the Big Ten, they will need to find the back of the net more often.