The Michigan men’s soccer team has been searching for a spark of offense all season.

So far, the Wolverines have relied on sophomore midfielder Fabio Villas Boas Pereira, who has scored 60 percent of their goals. Before last weekend, Pereira was the only Michigan player to have made friends with the back of the net — a fact that did not go unnoticed by Michigan coach Steve Burns.

“We’re looking for those offensive personalities to step up,” Burns said after last weekend’s 2-2 tie with Georgetown. “We’re challenging those guys to step up.”

On Wednesday evening, a different Wolverine stepped up to that challenge, not once, not twice, but three times.

Unheralded junior forward Etienne Lussiez put the team on his back, completing a hat trick and leading Michigan (2-4-1) to a 4-1 victory over Detroit (3-3).

“He put a great performance in,” Burns said. “Etienne came in and put that effort in on both sides of the ball, not only offensively but defensively. He looked great pushing the ball, being behind the defender to attack them, and he got himself in front of the goal a lot.”

Lussiez entered the game as a sub late in the first half, then notched his first career goal five minutes into the second period. His second and third career goals gave Michigan a cushion that allowed it to add to its three-game unbeaten streak.

Before Lussiez’s run, the Wolverines found themselves down late in the first half after senior midfielder Otieno Victor scored the opening goal for the Titans in the 35th minute. Earlier in the season, Michigan might have relied on Pereira to do his thing, but this time around, another Wolverine stepped up.

Redshirt freshman forward Tyler Arnone fired in the equalizer — also his first career goal — four minutes later to put Michigan in a good position going into halftime.

After that, it was the Etienne Lussiez show.

“The finishing touches were great,” Burns said. “I would go so far as to say that his second goal that he scored that put us up 3-1 could be the goal of the season. That was a special one he kicked.”

Entering the match, the biggest question for the Wolverines was whether or not they could match the physicality of the Titans for a whole 90 minutes. Physical teams tend to wear down their opposition, and coupled with the rain, stamina issues were on the forefront of Burns’s mind heading into the match.

But stamina seemed to be a non-issue in the second half, which saw Michigan outshoot Detroit 12-5. The Wolverines finished with 20 shots, while Detroit tallied just eight.

“I thought we did a great job of dealing with the physical side of the game and also being physical ourselves,” Burns said. “We also did a great job of keeping the rhythm we wanted to play with and not allowing the game to be disjointed but one that had a flow to it. That’s just a credit to what we are doing as a team.”

Michigan has played its best soccer of the year in the last week, but the real test will be on Friday. The Wolverines have a quick turnaround before playing No. 22 Notre Dame in South Bend for a crucial pre-conference match.

“I really like the fact that our team is getting better and better,” Burns said. “We still have a ways to go but the things we have been working on are improving, and that’s part of the joy of coaching, to coach a team that recognizes it is getting better and better and having some fun with it.”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.