Domination, at times, can be frustrating.
Just ask the Michigan men’s soccer team, which managed just a 2-1 win over the University of Detroit Mercy on Tuesday night despite firing a season-high 28 shots.
The Wolverines displayed a sense of urgency that was in stark contrast to their last two games — a 2-0 home loss to Bowling Green last Tuesday and a 1-0 win over Valparaiso on Saturday, which needed junior Fabio Perreira to find the game-winner with just 90 seconds left in regulation.
Michigan seemed poised to get on the scoresheet first and unloaded an offensive barrage in the first 15 minutes, outshooting Detroit 6-0. But, the Wolverines were forced to play from behind after Jason Leslie’s goal in the 41st minute gave the Titans the lead at the U-M Soccer Complex.
“The coaches really got after the guys to make sure that we didn’t have a repeat performance of what we had last week,” said Michigan coach Chaka Daley. “But we gave up a soft goal against the run of play. We always learn from our mistakes. Sometimes we need to take a little bit of ownership of what’s going on, and sometimes they get it wrong. It’s important for us to make sure that we steer them back on track.”
It didn’t take long for the wheels to realign. After an intentional handball on the goal line and subsequent red card to Titan defender Patrick Soltys, redshirt sophomore midfielder Tyler Arnone buried the ensuing penalty kick and drew the Wolverines level on the brink of halftime.
Arnone — who now has two goals and two assists in his last four games — is on an offensive tear recently and will be an integral part of what Michigan hopes will be a deep postseason run.
“The coaches gave me an opportunity to play in more of an attacking role, and I was just making the most of it,” Arnone said. “We know our season’s on the line and we want to make the NCAA tournament —we needed to win this game.”
Despite numerous opportunities and a man advantage in the second half, the go-ahead tally remained elusive despite shots that kept on coming.
“We should have scored some more (goals),” Daley said. “(We were) unfortunate in some ways and had poor finishing in others. We’re creating great chances, we just have to tuck some away.”
Freshman forward James Murphy was able to do just that. The Irishman found the breakthrough in the 66th minute to end the Wolverines’ frustrations and, in part, his own. After taking 12 games to tally his first collegiate goal — the game-winner vs. Indiana on October 19 — Murphy is finally getting tangible results.
“I feel like I’ve been playing well in general play, but the goals haven’t come my way,” Murphy said. “I think I need to get in the box more, get on the end of things like I did tonight more, and I think in the long run it will come.”
Michigan can only hope as much.
With rival Michigan State coming to town this Saturday and the Big Ten Tournament looming, the Wolverines will need to capitalize on their opportunities, put their opponents away early and have their chances translate into goals. But, as Daley noted, as long as they continue to put themselves in good situations offensively and play quality soccer, the rest will take care of itself.
“I thought that for 80 (of the 90) minutes we were superb,” Daley said. “When you’re playing with confidence and you’re aggressive and you’re playing with some urgency, especially this group, we’re confident we can … beat anyone.”