A flash of arrogance is all it takes.
And last night, that one moment for the No. 21 Michigan men’s soccer team proved costly.
In what seemed like a harmless throw-in, St. John sophomore Ryan Soroka tossed it to a unsuspecting Michigan defense. Catching the Wolverines off guard, Red Storm midfielder Nelson Beccera took the ball and sent the game-winner past Michigan goalkeeper Patrick Sperry. The Wolverines would fall in their second straight shutout, 2-0.
“They capitalized on the mistakes we made, and we didn’t capitalize on the mistakes they made,” Michigan coach Steve Burns said.
On Italian Ice night at Belson Stadium, Michigan (8-3-1 overall) went cold after the opening minutes of each half. The Wolverines pushed aggressively on offense and even tougher on defense. Through the first 23 minutes of play, they tallied three shots-on-goal. But Beccera’s score suddenly stifled the Michigan attack. The Wolverines didn’t let off another shot in the stanza. St. John responded with a storm of its own – six straight shots to close up the half.
Michigan came out of the locker room equalizing the intensity of the game’s opening minutes, controlling the ball and putting it on net. The Red Storm (6-4-2) were outshot 3-1 in the first 10 minutes of the second half.
But with nothing working for Michigan, frustration set in as junior captain Alex Morisset and sophomore Peri Marosevic each earned a yellow card. Five minutes after the second yellow, Red Storm senior Omar Alfonso danced past Sperry on the right side and trickled in the dagger.
The Wolverines put on a series of desperate attempts but only gained a red card against them in the 85th minute. As Morisset sailed one of many balls over the net, a scuffle broke loose between St. John’s Joel Gustafsson and Michigan junior Michael Holoday. Unfortunately, Holoday was on the wrong side of it. But it seemed fitting that an altercation ended the rough affair.
With most shots at the keeper, the hardest from Marosevic late in the match, the Wolverines didn’t make St. John goalkeeper Jason Landers work hard for his fifth shutout of the year. With its second-consecutive blanking, Michigan is receiving some payback for shutting out six of its opponents earlier this season.
“Here’s a theme: A good team makes you pay,” Burns said. “With that theme, our back half of the field, we’ve got to swallow our pride a bit and say, ‘You know what, maybe we’re not as good as we think we are in these situations.’ “
St. Johns 2