It took just seven minutes for the Michigan men’s soccer team to forget last weekend’s heartbreaking tie to Wisconsin.
At the seven-minute mark of last night’s contest at Oakland, freshman Tex McCullough fielded a pass from sophomore Mauro Fuzetti and scorched the net by sneaking the ball into the lower right corner of the goal. McCullough’s first-career goal ended up being the game winner in the Wolverines’ 2-0 blanking of the Golden Grizzlies.
After an emotional game against the Badgers, a mid-week contest against a team like Oakland could’ve been tricky. But Michigan coach Steve Burns said his team was focused squarely on the Grizzlies.
“I was interested to see how we would bounce back from the Wisconsin game,” Burns said. “But seeing the players’ attitudes at the team dinner and in the locker room before the game, I was very confident that they would perform well.”
That attitude resulted in two goals in the first 20 minutes, which helped the Wolverines (8-0-1) dictate the flow for the rest of the match. Junior Steve Bonnell launched a shot from about 20 yards out to notch the second goal. Fuzetti tallied his second point of the match with an assist on Bonnell’s goal.
On the other side of the field, Michigan’s defense remained iron tight, allowing Oakland (3-2-2) just eight shots. And when goalkeeper Patrick Sperry actually had to defend the net, he continued the dominance he has displayed all year long.
Sperry deflected every shot sent his way, tallying five saves in the process. It was his sixth shutout of the season, a Michigan single-season record. That’s quite a feat, considering the Wolverines have nine regular-season games remaining.
The aggressiveness of Michigan’s play on both sides of the ball helped it pitch the shutout.
“Obviously it’s a goal in any sport to start out the aggressor,” Burns said. “But I think we really put it together out there today and got right in our comfort level.”
After registering their eighth win of the season, the Wolverines have already matched last year’s win total. But with the meat of the conference schedule coming up, Michigan still has a lot of work to do this season, starting with a tough home matchup against Indiana Friday night.
“It’s going to be a great game with a great crowd,” Burns said through the athletic department. “Indiana is starting its Big Ten season with us, and we know how important it is to get the Big Ten season off to a good start. I just encourage everyone to come out and support us because it’s going to be a fantastic environment.”