On a chilly and drizzly Tuesday night in Ann Arbor, junior midfielder Latif Alashe gave the Michigan men’s soccer team a 1-0 overtime victory in a thrilling game against Akron, the defending national champions.
Alashe’s chip shot dropped over the hands of Akron goalkeeper David Mewes from 12 yards out last night at the U-M Soccer Complex. It was Latif’s second goal of the season and second-career overtime goal.
“I knew the goalie was out and I knew their guys weren’t on the line,” Alashe said. “I was trying to get it over all of them and it turned out perfectly.”
Heading into the match up against No. 4 Akron, the Wolverines (1-3 Big Ten, 4-10-1 overall) were coming off a 4-1 loss to Big Ten rival Indiana. The Zips (3-0 MAC, 10-1-2 overall) were holding onto a three-game winning streak.
Michigan came out firing. In the sixth minute, freshman striker Matthew Rickard received a pass from freshman Tyler Arnone and struck the ball off the fingertips of Mewes. The ball then hit the post and bounced out to Alashe, who blasted it way over the bar.
The last time these two teams faced off, Michigan suffered a devastating 2-1 loss in the 2010 College Cup semifinals.
Was this a rematch of last year’s loss?
“I wish that was the storyline, but I really don’t think it was,” said Michigan coach Steve Burns. “They’ve got a different team and we’ve got a different team. I think that we had a tougher time (adjusting) just because of the losses of the four kids that went pro.”
But there were other players who stepped up for the Wolverines.
“There were a couple of guys that were unsung heroes for us,” Burns said. “(Redshirt freshmen midfielder) Nick Lewin and (fifth-year senior midfielder) Adam Shaw in the middle of midfield did a great job today.”
Along with Lewin and Shaw, Michigan had two stellar performances from freshmen midfielder Luca Schioppa and sophomore forward Ezekiel Harris, who each recorded a team save in near-scoring opportunities for Akron.
“The focus is on putting together complete games and playing to our potential,” Burns said. “We saw it tonight and certainly a tough opponent helps you.”
Heading into the weekend, the Wolverines have tough games against San Diego State and Big Ten rivals Michigan State and Northwestern. In each of those games, Michigan will be the clear underdog.
“We’ve been having a rough season,” Alashe said. “That being said, all the games we have lost — eight of them have been by one goal. We know we can play with just about anyone.”