After frustrating one-goal loses in each of their first three Big Ten matches, the Michigan men’s soccer team got off to a quick start yesterday in Madison, en route to a much needed confidence-building victory over Wisconsin.
Scoring first has been a key factor to Michigan’s success this season.
“When we score first we’re undefeated,” Michigan coach Steve Burns said.
Michigan sophomore Knox Cameron lit-up the scoreboard at 7:15 to propel Michigan (1-3 Big Ten, 5-6-1 overall) to a 3-2 win.
Cameron received the ball from junior Kevin Taylor, who served a cross from the left sideline – about 40-yards out – to the near post. Cameron then pulled the ball out of the air, beating Wisconsin keeper Eric Hanson, and hit a well-placed shot for his eighth goal of the season.
It was a back-and-forth, entertaining match, which reflected both Michigan and Wisconsin’s young teams.
Due to its inexperience and sub-.500 record, Michigan had to be aggressive.
“There was a lot of youth on the field, but we were the aggressors,” Burns said.
The fast start also took pressure off freshman goaltender Peter Dzubay.
“The team’s confidence in him is growing,” Burns said of Dzubay, who made two saves.
After halftime, Junior Mike White pushed Michigan’s lead to two goals at 59:27, receiving a cross from sophomore Mychal Turpin. Attacking aggressively down the line, Turpin schooled two defenders on his way to the end line, and then froze the keeper as he slotted the ball to a well-positioned White.
But after building its lead, Michigan relaxed, and Wisconsin came storming back with two unanswered goals.
“We took it easy and they came at us,” Burns said of the letdown. “We could have given the game away.”
But Michigan added composure to its sense of confidence and gave Wisconsin with its third straight loss.
“We were confident and responded,” Burns said.
Burns also said that junior captain Joey Iding was “a warrior and the leading spirit on the field,” and Taylor played another really strong game defensively.
Sophomore walk-on Jeff Mirmelstein capped off his first career start with the game winner.
Turpin sent a laser from 20-yards out, which the keeper knocked into the air. Mirmelstein then took advantage of being in great position and headed in the loose ball.
“He was kinda down because he wasn’t starting, and I told him, ‘Just relax’,” Burns said of Mirmelstein. “I think everyone was pleased to see him get the game winner.”
The win was much needed for a team searching for confidence as it heads towards the end of its season.
“This victory surges our confidence and gives us something to build on with two conference games left (against Northwestern and Ohio State),” Burns said.