Martha Stewart couldn’t have cooked up a better recipe for the Michigan men’s soccer team.

Start with a nine-game winless streak, stir in a four-game scoreless skid, mix in the final regular-season game, sprinkle a dash of Parent’s Night and top it off with the seniors’ final contest at the U-M Soccer Field.

Bake for 90 minutes.


At the sound of the final buzzer in Saturday’s match against Penn State, Michigan finally experienced the sweet taste of victory once again.

Maybe it was the night-game atmosphere. Maybe it was the maize uniforms the team sports for “big games.” Maybe it was just the Wolverines’ time.

Whichever rings true for the Maize and Blue, Michigan came out of its slump and defeated the Nittany Lions, 1-0.

“When you’re not scoring goals and not getting results, you tend to lose that winning feeling,” Michigan coach Steve Burns said. “There is nothing like getting a good win and hopefully getting the momentum going in your direction again.”

A little more than 10 minutes into the second half, sophomore Michael Holody lined up to take a free kick for Michigan. When Penn State’s goalkeeper Conrad Taylor came out of the net to challenge the Wolverine attack, the ball popped out to tri-captain Kevin Hall. The senior took the shot and found the back of the net for the game-winner at 56:06.

“(Brian Popeney) always says that I have the most surprised look on my face when I score,” Hall said. “I don’t really remember that much, but I know it was a good feeling.”

Hall and the rest of the Michigan contingent rushed over to the stands, jumped up and down and embraced one another in a post-goal celebration that has been a long time coming.

There couldn’t have been a more appropriate Prince Charming in Saturday’s fairy tale.

“Kevin Hall is the emotional leader on our team,” Burns said. “He’s the warrior on our team. You saw him cover immense tracks of ground today. He found himself in a good scoring position and calmly hit a nice ball. The rest is history.”

Michigan (1-2-3 Big Ten, 6-9-4 overall) came out hungry against Penn State (3-3-0, 6-10-2) from the outset. About 17 minutes into the first half, Popeney gathered a ball from freshman Peri Marosevic. But Taylor challenged the play and made two consecutive blocks to save a goal.

Hall also earned an early opportunity to score off a serve from freshman Mauro Fuzetti in the left corner. Hall’s header sailed just wide, but the Wolverines had the Nittany Lions back on their toes from the very beginning.

Michigan set the aggressive tone early and never looked back.

“This being the senior’s last day, we tried to make an emotional appeal in the locker room,” Burns said. “(We talked about) all that the seniors have done, the enthusiasm they show day in and day out and all of the passion and love that they have for this soccer program. I think everyone responded and rallied around it. . Tonight was our night.”

Following Hall’s goal, the Wolverines protected their lead with their lives. Defensive containment had been a consistent force in Michigan’s play all season long, and Saturday’s contest was no exception. Goalkeeper Patrick Sperry served as a formidable last line of defense, notching six saves on the night.

“It was an all-out effort from the whole team,” senior defender Kevin Savitske said. “It started with the forwards tracking back, the midfield working hard and ended with the solid defense in the back. (The keys were) big, hard tackles and just a lot of effort.”

The bottom line: the crisp, fall evening was a night to remember for the Wolverines. It took just four words to overshadow all of the season’s struggles and disappointments: “Hail to the Victors.”

“The guys all having smiles on their faces (on Saturday) is worth any team retreat and any great practice,” Burns said. “It’s tough to fabricate that, and it does a lot for the psyche. The timing couldn’t be better going into the Big Ten Tournament.”

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