STATE COLLEGE – On Oct. 13, Michigan lost to Michigan State 2-1 and dropped to 0-3 in conference play.
Since then, the Wolverines have not lost a game (6-0-1). Their streak continued yesterday with a 1-0 victory over Northwestern in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament.
At Jeffrey Field, No. 2 seed Michigan (10-6-2) squeaked out a victory over the seventh-seeded Wildcats (8-12).
Michigan thoroughly dominated the first half of the game. The Wolverines outshot Northwestern 6-3 and held the ball for the majority of the half.
“In the first half, we did a good job in recognizing how to go at Northwestern,” Burns said. “We controlled five-sixths of the game.”
Michigan’s most impressive drive came in the 25th minute of the half, and resulted in the game’s only goal. The drive started when freshman Adam Bruh gained a free-kick 15 yards out of the Northwestern box. Bruh took the kick from the left side and lofted a perfect ball into the box. Junior captain Mike White snuck behind the defense, met the ball four yards out and blasted a header into the goal. The score was sweet redemption for White, who failed to convert on a similar play minutes before.
“I expect Bruh to play a great ball, just like he did the time before when I missed my opportunity,” White said. “I expect him to play a great ball just about every time, which he does. So it makes it pretty easy to put it in when you get that many chances.”
In the second half, the game evened out, and Northwestern outshot Michigan 7-6.
The Wolverines saw an opening in the Wildcat defense, but couldn’t exploit it.
“In the second half, we looked at the fact that there was a lot of spacing behind their defense, and that we were going to be able to get in that space if we could play into feet, lay off and then look for the third man running,” Burns said. “That’s more of a rhythm game, and to Northwestern’s credit, I think they were really destroying rhythm.”
Although Michigan’s offense was ineffective in the second half, freshman keeper Peter Dzubay played superbly, recording three saves.
With the win, the Wolverines earned a match in the semifinals tonight against No. 6 seed Michigan State. The Spartans handed Michigan its last loss eight games ago. Although the game is obviously monumental for every member of the Wolverines, this match holds special significance for Dzubay.
“Growing up in Michigan, I know it’s a big rivalry,” Dzubay said. “I was sitting on the bench for the last game, and if there was one thing I wanted, it was to get in and try to make an impact on that game. Tomorrow I can step up and try to do that.”