The high-pitched shriek of the referee’s whistle quieted an otherwise hostile Akron crowd.
After Michigan junior forward Peri Marosevic was violently dropped by a late tackle inside the 18-yard box, senior captain Michael Holody prepared himself for a penalty kick that could even the score with about 35 minutes remaining in Wednesday night’s game. He planted his left foot deep in the turf and struck the ball.
Akron goalkeeper Evan Bush guessed Holody would send the ball wide and low.
He was right.
“He stretched out horizontal to the ground and got fingertips to it and really pushed it into the post,” Michigan coach Steve Burns said.
No. 5 Akron defeated the 21st-ranked Wolverines 1-0 at Lee Jackson Field. Before the game, Holody had been perfect on the season with two successful penalty kicks.
“I practice them a lot and kind of pride myself on them because I like to get up there and put the ball in the net,” Holody said.
The Zips’ highly-touted defense gave Akron (4-0 Mid-American Conference, 12-1-2 overall) its ninth straight victory behind Bush, who has yielded just four goals this season and leads the MAC in shutouts.
The Wolverines (1-1-1 Big Ten, 9-4-2 overall) had many scoring opportunities in the opening minutes of the game, but midfielder Steve Bonnell and Marosevic both squandered open shots at the goal.
The Zips found the net in the 17th minute, capitalizing on a Wolverine blown assignment. Akron’s Anthony Ampaipitakwong was left wide open in the box and rocketed a volley past Michigan redshirt junior goalkeeper Patrick Sperry.
“That kid lined it up and just hit a full volley, a screamer. and I could barely react to it,” Sperry said. “He just smoked it. He was unmarked, and it was kind of a gift to them, almost.”
Akron students heckled the Michigan keeper throughout the game, following him to the opposite side of the field in the second half. Fully equipped with horns, drums and profanity-laden songs, the fans erupted after the score.
Despite the electric environment, the Wolverines stayed focused until the end. They outhustled the Zips in the second half with extremely physical play and were sparked by a late substitution at midfield.
“(Senior) Nader Jarun came in at the right mid and put a hard tackle on a player, and that kind of set the tone and everyone fed off that,” Burns said. “When we brought that in the second half, the game was really ours to take.”
But they couldn’t quite reach it.
After Wednesday’s loss to Akron, Michigan will face another stiff test Saturday on the road against No. 2 Northwestern.