Freshman Peri Marosevic of the Michigan men’s soccer team may have a new calling – a psychic.
In the Wolverines’ second match of this weekend’s Michigan Invitational against Virginia Commonwealth (2-3) at the U-M Soccer Field yesterday, Marosevic broke the deadlock with just more than seven minutes remaining in the first half. Off a pass from midfield, Marosevic gathered the ball at his feet and turned around to face a pair of defenders. But even in the middle of traffic, the rookie found the tiniest of holes and sent the ball into the back of the net over the diving, outstretched hands of the Rams’ goalie – giving Michigan the first goal of the game.
Though the nearly impossible shot shocked coaches and fans alike, Marosevic was not nearly as stunned.
“When I woke up this morning, I felt that I was going to score today,” Marosevic said. “I knew it was coming. It’s one of those things that as soon as you get the ball, you know you are going to score . I looked up and saw the goal and said, ‘Why not? Let’s take this chance.’ And it paid off.”
Sprinting toward the crowd while holding up his No. 9 jersey, Marosevic described the after-goal celebration as “the best feeling.”
Michigan coach Steve Burns, said Marosevic’s “chance” shot could turn out to be “the best goal of the season.”
Regardless if Burns’s own attempt at fortune-telling turns out to ring true, the newcomer’s goal proved to be at least one thing yesterday – the game-winner. Michigan (3-3) had all the offense it needed to edge the Rams 1-0, and be declared the Michigan Invitational winner.
The Wolverines, who also defeated Butler on Friday, 3-1, took the Invitational trophy based on a tiebreaker. Michigan was deemed the winner over Michigan State, who also went 2-0 on the weekend, because of the number of goals tallied on the weekend. The Wolverines barely squeaked by the Spartans’ point total, four goals to three.
Virginia Commonwealth certainly did not give Michigan a free pass to victory. Neither team ever completely held momentum as a result of a competitive tactical battle between the two squads. Burns said that the Rams did a good job of sitting in and trying to play off the counterattack. As a result, he tweaked his team’s strategy.
“We made a change where we stepped up our outside midfield higher up the field to pressure their back four,” Burns said. “It really upset their rhythm. That seemed to be that one piece we needed to move in the chess game to make the game really come out our way.”
The change frustrated the Rams, who never managed to get on the scoreboard.
Another key to Michigan’s victory rested largely on physical toughness. The referees’ whistles were constantly blowing, as players on both sides made hard tackles.
“To me, you look at the uniforms and there’s a lot of dirt, grass and blood on them,” Burns said. “That’s the effort we expect every game.”
Three yellow cards were divvied up between the two teams, and senior co-captain Kevin Hall was one such recipient.
“I think Michigan always likes to play physical, and Virginia Commonwealth did a good job matching our physicality,” Hall said. “I think that’s the way we like it. Anytime we can play physical, we think we have the upper hand.”
Now posting a current .500 record, the Wolverines seem to have bounced back from a rocky 1-3 start to the season. But neither Burns nor the players ever thought the Wolverines needed to drastically turn the season around.
“We were never off-track,” Hall said. “We were always playing good soccer. We just needed to mesh the freshmen with the seniors and get used to playing with each other in game situations. It’s starting to show now, and we are getting our wins.”
Virginia Commonwealth: 2