Louro makes strong statement in debut

Paul Sherman/Daily
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By Jake Lourim, Daily Sports Editor
Published August 31, 2014

Evan Louro found out the news Saturday night, fewer than 24 hours before game time. The Michigan men’s soccer coaches told the true freshman goalkeeper he’d be starting his first career game the following day against Southern Methodist.

Could he even sleep after that news?

“Oh, yeah,” Louro said. “Like a baby.”

Not much shakes Louro’s confidence, according to Michigan coach Chaka Daley, and nothing did Sunday, either. His assertiveness earned him a shutout and gave the Wolverines their first win of the season, 3-0.

The 6-foot-3 native of South River, New Jersey has come in and made the goalie position a competition with Adam Grinwis — a fifth-year senior, three-year starter and captain.

He has done it with poise, calmly leading a more experienced back line that surrendered just nine shots, three on goal. He has done it with good decision making, punching corner kicks out of the box to dispel scoring chances. And he has done it with fearlessness: In the 44th minute, SMU forward Colten Habecker slipped past the defense, took one touch and then another that was just a tad too strong. Louro came off his line and smothered the ball, deflecting it off to the side. After the game, he unveiled a red mark the size of a softball on his upper arm.

It was clear nothing shook Louro, not even the challenge of his first start at U-M Soccer Stadium.

“As a freshman, he’s extremely confident,” Daley said. “He’s got a lot of experience. He’s not really like your true freshman. He’s got enough experience that he’s more like a junior, which is great for our group and for the guys in the back. He brings a calmness about him, a maturity.”

Louro has been on different U.S. national teams since 2009 and is now a member of the U.S. Under-20 team. So the 1,348 fans on hand Sunday in Ann Arbor didn’t shake him, nor did the effects of Friday’s 1-0 upset loss to Florida International.

“I don’t really get nervous,” Louro said. “Maybe before the game, but as soon as I’m in the game, I don’t think about it and I’m just tuned in.”

Grinwis, who has played more than 5,000 minutes and made 235 saves in 58 career starts, figured as the starter coming in. But Louro hasn’t hesitated to contest the spot, just as he didn’t hesitate in salvaging a split on the weekend for Michigan.

Daley said the two keepers were about even heading into the weekend. After such a short preseason, he is still evaluating the position and may either rotate them based on the game or opponent or pick a clear No. 1 option.

“We wanted to give them both a game to see the differences, strengths, weaknesses,” Daley said. “But we also played two very different games as a group. So it’s still hard to tell in my opinion, because we were much more prepared and focused as a collective group (on Sunday) than we were Friday.”

The Wolverines play one game each of the next three weekends, so with splitting the contests not an option, perhaps a starter will emerge. At the very least for Louro, he’s learning from Grinwis in his first season.

“I learned a lot from Adam because he’s a senior and he’s been around the block,” Louro said. “(Assistant coach Jhojan Obando) has been working with both of us, and it’s good to get that competitiveness in training. But at the end of the day, whoever coach chooses to go out, we know they’re going to do a good job.”

After two strong defensive performances on the weekend, the competition is just that — a competition. But Louro showed with his play Sunday that he won’t back down from anything.