The Michigan men’s soccer team opened the first round of the conference tournament hoping to resurrect the magic of 2010.

The defending Big Ten Tournament champion Wolverines were confident they could repeat as champions, according to freshman midfielder Tyler Arnone. Despite their struggles during the regular season — which stemmed from their inability to score — they believed that they had the ability to surprise everyone but themselves.

But this wasn’t the same high-octane Wolverine team of 2010, and it showed.

Struggling to convert on scoring opportunities the whole game — much like they did during the regular season — the Wolverines lost to Wisconsin, 2-0, as their season came to an end.

Early on, the inclement weather greatly impacted play. With howling winds, cold temperatures and sporadic rainfall, neither team was able to maintain possession of the ball for lengthy periods of time in the first half. The winds created havoc for both defenses.

“The wind in the first half was a huge factor,” said senior midfielder Adam Shaw. “No one wanted to take any risks, so we just wanted to get the ball up the field. But when we kicked it up the field, it got stuck in the wind so it seemed like we were in our half (of the field) a lot.”

Despite playing against the wind during the first half, Michigan (1-5 Big Ten, 5-14-1 overall) was still able to create scoring chances. In the 31st minute, redshirt sophomore midfielder Noble Sullivan outran the Wisconsin defense and retrieved a pass at the top of the box. But with Badger goalkeeper Max Jentsch coming out of goal to challenge the play, Sullivan was unable to get a clean shot at the net.

Minutes later, Arnone received a pass in the middle of Wisconsin’s box. With another golden opportunity, Arnone fired just left of the goal.

Though both teams had multiple scoring chances, neither the Wolverines nor the Badgers (4-2, 10-7-2) could convert as they entered halftime in a scoreless tie.

As the wind died down at the beginning of the second half, Wisconsin played much more aggressively. It attacked relentlessly and pressured Michigan’s defense, creating scoring chances from the first minute of the second half. Its attack, though, was initially stifled by redshirt freshman goalie Adam Grinwis.

Grinwis was instrumental in keeping Michigan competitive throughout the game, especially in the second half when he routinely made sliding and diving saves.

In the 58th minute, it looked as if midfielder Joey Tennyson would give Wisconsin the lead with what appeared to be a perfectly placed shot at the top left corner of the goal. But Grinwis corralled the ball after making a full-extension save.

“For 84 minutes, Grinwis managed the game really, really well,” said Michigan coach Steve Burns. “He made things look easy in a couple of very dangerous situations.”

The Wolverines, though, continued to struggle with converting scoring chances. With less than 11 minutes left in the game, junior midfielder Latif Alashe sent a pass towards Arnone in the middle of the box. Arnone barely missed deflecting the ball into the net, as it sailed just passed his outstretched leg.

Moments later, Wisconsin took the lead when midfielder Nick Janus took a pass from fellow midfielder Tomislav Zadro and knocked the ball into the left corner of the net from the top of the box.

Arnone and freshman forward Matt Rickard had chances to tie up the game in the 85th minute, but they couldn’t convert their shots from within the box.

With less than two minutes remaining in the game, Wisconsin scored its second goal of the game. Pushing up the field for additional offense, Grinwis whiffed on a kick — Wisconsin took control of the ball and scored on the empty net.

Despite Michigan’s struggles, Burns was encouraged by what he saw on the field as his team enters the offseason.

“All in all, I thought where we were lacking — with our killing instinct — the young guys are starting to come around and they will be around next year,” he said.

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