While goals and offensive tactics were lacking throughout
yesterday’s game for the Michigan men’s soccer team,
emotions were not. After being dealt 18 fouls, four yellow cards,
one red card and a season-ending injury to a pivotal member of the
team, how could it not be an emotional 90 minutes?

No. 19 Michigan traveled to Bloomington yesterday to square off
against the reigning NCAA Champions in the most anticipated game of
Michigan’s season. The Wolverines entered the game with an
0-5 all-time record against the Hoosiers, and left with a
disappointing sixth loss by a score of 2-1.

Playing with a competitive offense, the Hoosiers took control of
the game from the start and had possession of the ball for most of
the contest by pressuring the Wolverines’ defense to play
more assertively and physically.

“Indiana is a strong team from top to bottom,”
Michigan coach Steve Burns said. “They are a team that is
extremely physical, but also has a psychologically powerful edge in
the game — that’s what makes them the defending
national champions.”

The Hoosiers converted their competitive offensive attacks into
a scoring situation at 53:39 in the second half. Indiana defender
Jed Zanyer drove the ball towards Michigan’s goal and passed
it to an open Brian Plotkin, who was left alone on the far side of
the net. With a left-footed shot, Plotkin netted the first goal of
the game.

“Plotkin’s goal was well planned out by
Indiana,” Burns said. “One of the team’s central
defenders left their position and threw the shape of our defense
out of balance, giving him an open spot near the net.”

Just minutes after Indiana’s goal, Michigan was faced with
a serious dilemma on the field.

At 56:21 in the second half, Zanyer slide-tackled senior Dawson
Stellberger, who fell to the ground clutching his left leg.
Michigan players rushed to their injured teammate, signaling for
assistance from the sidelines. Surrounding the injured Stellberger,
the trainers determined that he had broken his leg and called for
an ambulance to come out on the field. Stellberger was placed on a
stretcher and rushed to the hospital. The referee flashed Zanyer a
red card, kicking him out of the game and allowed Michigan to play
a man-up for 20 minutes.

“After a tough injury to one of your central players, you
don’t know how the team is going to respond,” Burns
said. “Some crumble and let the game fall apart, but we found
a way to pull it together. We fought tooth and nail till the bitter
end. We were all over the game.”

The Wolverines lost their advantage when junior Ryan Sterba
received the second red card of the game for slide tackling Mike
Ambersley and injuring Ambersley’s knee.

Indiana rallied back from the injury and John Michael Hayden
scored the game-winning goal at 84:14, when he grounded the ball
into the net off of a corner kick.

It seemed that any time the Wolverines showed any sign of
offensive aggressiveness, the Hoosiers were immediately on the
defense and stopping any potential Wolverine prowess. Michigan was
only able to score one goal, which was made by senior Mychal
Turpin. With just three seconds left in the game, Indiana
goalkeeper Jay Nolly fell out of position, leaving the net open to
the Michigan offense. Turpin took advantage of the hole and slipped
one into the goal, putting the Wolverines on the scoreboard.

Michigan’s defensive game was tested throughout the entire
90 minutes. Two Wolverines that played an integral role on defense
were senior captain and goalkeeper Joe Zawacki and junior
midfielder Craig Vandevusse.

Zawacki made his presence known in the net early in the first
half with two aggressive saves.

“Zawacki is a very strong goal keeper,” Burns said.
“Not only does he have confidence in the net, he organizes
the defense really well.”

Vandevusse’s role may have been quieter than
Zawacki’s, but it was key to the Wolverines’ defense.
Vandevusse was matched up against Indiana’s Jacob Peterson
— the most dangerous offensive player for the Hoosiers
— known for his tough shots and incredible speed on the
field. Peterson, who had been named Big Ten Player of the Week for
the past two weeks in a row, was unable to transition on the field
due to Vandevusse’s defensive tactics.

“We didn’t want Peterson to single-handedly beat our
team like he’s done in the past,” Burns said. “We
called Craig up because he is one of the best man markers on the
team. And while Vandevusse was able to stop Peterson, the team was
still unable to take complete control of the game.

“Our guys did a tremendous job,” Burns said.
“They continue to impress me with the way they respond to
adversity and the challenges they face. While we didn’t win
the game, I think that they proved their intensity.”

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