Just five minutes into the game, Maryland’s Joe Suchecki placed the ball on the penalty spot, ready to open fire on Michigan sophomore goalkeeper Owen Finnerty. The midfielder took a few steps, swung his left leg and sent the ball flying towards the Wolverines’ net, only for it to be knocked away by Finnerty.
Finnerty’s early penalty save was the lone bright spot of his shortened match performance on Thursday. He was issued a red card three minutes later after colliding with a Terrapin forward on a breakaway. Without its starting goalkeeper and the 11th man for much of the match, the Michigan men’s soccer team (3-1-0 Big Ten) lost 2-1 to Maryland (2-3-0 Big Ten).
Terrapin forward Mike Heitzmann opened up the scoring for Maryland in the 15th minute. Off a perfect cross from midfielder Nick Richardson, Heitzmann finished a header past the Wolverines’ replacement goalkeeper, freshman Ethan Woods.
Michigan had its own share of chances in the first half, outshooting the Terrapins by a 5-4 margin. While it generated more opportunities on the scoresheet, Michigan failed to capitalize on any of them, and Maryland held a 1-0 edge heading into the break.
“We had more chances, and we had more of the ball,” Michigan coach Chaka Daley said. “After going the person down and being on 10 men for 83 minutes, I thought we were on the front foot the whole game, which was real positive for our group.”
In the 51st minute, a through ball from junior forward Derick Broche opened up a hole in the defense for senior attacking midfielder Marc Ybarra, who received the ball in the Maryland box. Ybarra held the ball for a split second before he was swallowed up by three Terrapin defenders and fell to the ground. Michigan pleaded with the referees for a call, though to no avail.
Following a header from Maryland’s forward Paul Bin, the Wolverines found themselves down 2-0 in the 70th minute. Two minutes later, though, Michigan senior defender Jackson Ragen nodded the ball into the back of the net off a Ybarra corner kick to put some pressure on the Terrapins. The goal cut the lead to 2-1 and gave the Wolverines life, capping an impressive day from the senior filled with defensive prowess and positional versatility.
“Jackson Ragen was very good again when (we put him) upfront with 15 or 20 minutes to go,” said Daley. “(He) put it all on the line today.”
Michigan had its final chance to equalize during an offensive barrage in the 80th minute. Freshman midfielder Quin Rogers sent a shot towards the Maryland net, but it was blocked by a wall of defenders. Michigan scooped up the loose ball and cycled it over to Ybarra, who took aim and fired a curling rocket towards the top right corner, missing the potential equalizer by a matter of inches. From there, each side stalled until the final whistle.
Although the final score didn’t show the result desired by the Wolverines, it showed the traits of the team they want to be.
“We couldn’t find a way out of it from a result standpoint, but from a performance standpoint, I couldn’t fault one player that played for Michigan soccer today,” Daley said. “We competed until the final whistle. We felt a little bit short today, but it’s lessons learned.”
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