As the varsity team awaits the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee’s decision, another team has already booked its place in another tournament.
After finishing 8-2-2, the club soccer team will be defending its National Title this week when it travels to Florida for the NIRSA Collegiate Sports Club Championship tournament.
The Wolverines secured its bid to the national tournament in the regionals. In a highly competitive division where every game matters, nothing less than winning the region outright was good enough to earn that bid.
“In previous years, we have had automatic bids to nationals, so in the past, the regional tournament hasn’t meant as much,” senior Brad Murphy said. “Not having that bid didn’t allow us to relax. It was a do-or-die situation.”
Faced with that predicament, Michigan buckled down. After a draw in the first game of the round robin stage of the tournament, the Wolverines went on to string together three consecutive wins against undefeated teams to win the tournament.
Senior defender Brent Medema, who scored the lone goal in the 1-0 victory over Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the regional final, thought the team couldn’t have chosen a better time to hit its stride.
“The (semifinal) game against Indiana was some of the best soccer we’ve played all year,” he said.
Murphy and Medema, both members of last year’s National Championship squad, feel that the upcoming tournament is a chance to solidify their program’s elite status in the nation.
To ensure that continued excellence, the Wolverines will be relying on Murphy and Medema to provide leadership and quality on the pitch, but both are quick to downplay their performances to sing praises of their teammates.
“I like the glory of scoring and leading the team to victory,” Medema said of his free kick goal in the regional final. “But we have a great team, and everyone is stepping up big time.”
As defending National Champs, Michigan will surely enter Pensacola with a target on its back. However, after the obstacles the Wolverines have overcome to get where they are so far, it is clear that the team thrives off the pressure.
“Our teams the last few years have been the kind that play the best under pressure,” Murphy said. “Hopefully we’ll take advantage of our situation and do it again.”