SALINE – Two minutes and 41 seconds was all it took for the Michigan men’s soccer team to look like it would roll to another easy win.
Once the Wolverines scored, they never looked back — but they also never scored again.
In a tough, defensive-minded battle, the Wolverines shut out Oakland 1-0 last night in their final tuneup before kicking off the Big Ten season Saturday at Wisconsin.
The lone goal was scored by junior midfielder Mauro Fuzetti, who sent home a header in traffic that eluded the outstretched arms of Oakland goalie Steve Clark. Assisting him was senior forward Jake Stacy, who fed Fuzetti a beautiful sideline inbounds pass into a sea of maize and black uniforms to set up the score.
The goal was Fuzetti’s sixth of the season and propelled him into sole possession of the team lead.
Little transpired on offense after Fuzetti’s goal. Both Clark and Michigan redshirt junior goalkeeper Patrick Sperry prevented opponents from scoring to keep the game at 1-0, but they received plenty of help from their defenses. Clark had to make just one save, and Sperry three.
“The pillow I talk to at night isn’t so much about the offense as it’s about the defense,” Michigan coach Steve Burns said.”I think we put a great effort out there today.”
Michigan’s only scare came late in the second half on what appeared to be a sure goal by the Golden Grizzlies’ leading scorer, junior forward Sebastian Harris. Though he didn’t have to save many shots during the game, Sperry rose to the occasion.
“That was great,” Sperry said. “I was on my toes and I was even thinking before the play had started that I’m about ready to make a big save here. So throughout the game, you just wait to be called upon, and you have to be ready.”
Burns was satisfied with his team’s performance, especially on the defensive side of the ball, saying the Wolverines’ play is what they need during the Big Ten season.
“That’s the second shutout of the season for us,” Burns said. “That’s good to see against a talented Oakland team that came in here 6-1 and ranked in several polls.”