When Western Michigan (9-4-0 overall, 1-0-0 MAC) visited the Michigan men’s soccer team (6-4-3 overall, 2-1-2 Big Ten) last Thursday, the visitors looked to use a seemingly simple tactic— turn the beautiful game into something, well, less beautiful. Their attempts proved successful as the Broncos beat the Wolverines 2-1.
“It wasn’t much of a soccer game, which made it a lot more difficult for us,” said Michigan coach Chaka Daley.
A talented Western Michigan team, ranked 33rd in the country in the latest RPI poll, used physical play to its advantage to turn the game away from a chess match. Despite totaling 14 fouls, the Broncos only earned one yellow card in the 14th minute.
Michigan looked frustrated trying to deal with Western Michigan’s energy while struggling to keep possession in the attacking half of the field and went into the half trailing 1-0. After a few more hard fouls in the second half, the frustration started to boil over, as Michigan exchanged frequently pleasantries with Broncos players.
Coach Daley did his best to cool his team down and refocus it on its own play.
“It’s tough, I think it should be sorted out by the officials,” Daley said. “But if it’s not, you have to make sure that you respond and continue to play and not get too distracted or emotional from it. I think our team got a little emotional as a result.”
Emotions reached a peak point after the final horn, the game ending in a 2-1 Western Michigan win. The Broncos performed a spirited rendition of their fight song in front of their supporters, to the great dismay of a few Michigan players who approached the opposing team with seemingly ill intent before being held back by teammates and coaches.
Theatrics aside, Western Michigan ultimately outplayed Michigan and could cruise back to Kalamazoo with an impressive win against the Wolverines. Undoubtedly the Wolverines will have their next bout with the Broncos circled on their calendars.