After a 1-0 shutout of No. 20 Indiana Saturday, the Wolverines’ second win over a ranked team in four days, Michigan is wondering if it will crack the top 25 in the national rankings.
After a dismal 2007 season, the Wolverines (1-0-1 Big Ten, 8-2-2 overall) earned their first win over a Big Ten opponent since November 6, 2006.
“That will take care of itself,” Michigan coach Steve Burns said. “They know that that is a success that can trap you.”
The Wolverines’ defenders have done the trapping lately, allowing just one goal in a 3-1 upset of No. 8 Notre Dame last week. And on Saturday, Michigan earned a shutout against the Hoosiers at Bill Armstrong Stadium in Bloomington.
“Mike Holody and Julian Robles, our two center backs, are playing great,” Burns said. “And you have to give credit to our defensive midfielder Alex Morisset. He played with a tremendous amount of heart.”
Burns estimated that Morisset ran about a dozen miles over the course of the game.
“We just tried to stay tight with their center fielders, and we knew they had a quick left back,” the senior said. “We just stayed tight with those three guys, and we were able to shut them down.”
While the defense stole the show, senior Jake Stacy scored the match’s only goal just 78 seconds into the match. Stacy charged from the top of the penalty box an connected on a well-placed cross from Morisset.
The Wolverines’ offense has been evenly distributed this season, with 10 different players scoring in the first 12 games.
“You can never complain about having a lot of offensive weapons,” Stacy said. “It helps for me, and that’s a reason I’ve gotten a lot of opportunities to score.”
After the early Michigan score, the Hoosiers (1-1, 5-3-2) pushed hard to get shots on goal the rest of the first half, outshooting the Wolverines 11-3. But the defense and redshirt junior goalkeeper Patrick Sperry took charge and shut Indiana down.
Sperry has played his best soccer the past five games, allowing just three goals and racking up 19 saves, including five on Saturday.
The entire team, even players who focus mostly on scoring, have emphasized playing better defense when the ball is on their side of the field.
Burns said junior forward Peri Marosevic and junior midfielder Mauro Fuzetti, two players who focus mostly on offense, are also two of the team’s hardest-working defenders.
“The last few games, our whole team has bought into working really hard defensively,” Stacy said.
The Wolverines begin a two-game home stand against Western Michigan on Sunday. They will have momentum from the past two big wins, but Burns doesn’t want them riding too high.
“My job is to keep the team focused on what we need to do next, and that is Western Michigan,” Burns said. “We’ll make sure the players’ feet are on the ground, and they realize there are still a lot of games left in the season.”