On Sunday, late in the first half, senior midfielder Latif Alashe’s chip-shot goal over the head of a hapless opposing goalie typified the Michigan men’s soccer team’s performance — impressive and full of style.

The Wolverines (2-2) took to the pitch at home against Northeastern (4-1), winning 4-1 and dominating the stats sheet.

Michigan pressured the Huskies early with incisive passing, creating space for their midfielders to distribute the ball and generate scoring opportunities. These opportunities came early and often, but the Wolverines struggled at first to finish and most of these chances ended wide of the mark.

Michigan’s lead in time of possession finally translated to a lead on the scoreboard midway through the first half when junior midfielder Fabio Pereira delivered a well-placed corner kick into the box and, with a header, senior defender Kofi Opare sent it into the back of the net.

Shortly after, Northeastern’s goalkeeper aggressively challenged a cross by sticking his leg out. Instead of the ball, the challenge struck freshman forward James Murphy, drawing a red card and along with it a game ejection and penalty kick. Pereira capitalized on the penalty kick to make the score 2-0.

After the red card collision, the game became noticeably more aggressive, especially in front of the net. While they were a man down and two goals back, the Huskies did not sit down quietly. They continued to struggle gaining possession, but did succeed in preventing a shutout late in the first half by burying a shot into the top shelf from about 30 yards out.

The interruption of Michigan’s command of the game was brief, though. Less than a minute later, Alashe’s spectacular chip moved the score to 3-1, where it would stay for the remainder of the half.

The second half was less eventful, and the Wolverines seemed more content to hold possession near midfield than press forward as often as they did to start the game. Michigan coach Chaka Daley explained that this was by design.

“We wanted to keep the ball,” Daley said. “You’re up 3-1, and the only way they can score is if they have the ball. So if we have the ball more often that’s the kind of team we want to become as well.”

This pattern continued throughout the second half, and limited the scoring opportunities of both teams.

The final goal of the game and the only one of the second half came when the Huskies’ defense over committed to Pereira, allowing a quick pass to Opare, who then tallied his second goal of the day.

As a defender, Opare doesn’t usually find himself in scoring position. Last season he managed two goals, a feat he tied in just this one game.

“Fabio played me a great ball in the first half,” Opare said. “My only job was just to header the ball on frame, which is pretty easy after great service. (For the) second goal I just happened to be at the right spot at the right time. Fabio committed the defender and I basically just tapped it in. So I give a lot of credit to my teammates who helped me score those goals.”

Also among the Wolverines’ top performers on the day was Pereira with a goal and two assists. The man-up scenario that Michigan found themselves in worked especially in the favor of Pereira who, along with the other midfielders, enjoyed plenty of space to maneuver and distribute the ball.

“I think that even if they didn’t go a man down we would still have a good score at the end of the day because we came out strong and we had probably the best performance of the year so far,” Pereira said.

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