For the Michigan men’s soccer team, it felt good to be home, or at least it should have. The Wolverines (2-2-1 Big Ten, 5-7-1 overall) have grown accustomed to the rowdy Michigan Ultras, family support and winning at the U-M Soccer Complex.
Michigan returned to Ann Arbor Tuesday to host Bowling Green (2-2-1 Mid-American Conference, 5-7-3) after a three-game road stretch that included a victory against No. 11 Indiana.
The energy was recognizably high from both the players and supporters, as Michigan head coach Chaka Daley made his return to the sideline after suffering a knee injury two weeks ago. Much to his dismay, the return was nothing like Daley had hoped for, as the Wolverines fell to the Falcons 2-0.
“I was excited for the opportunity tonight because we had a lot of belief that if we could put things together right here at home, we could potentially be above .500 going into the Big Ten Tournament,” Daley said. “That would have given us a lot of hope heading forward.”
But the Wolverines’ early excitement was not as apparent on the field in the first half. Though Michigan controlled much of the possession, it failed to record a shot on goal in the initial frame for the first time all season.
Despite clear offensive woes, the Wolverines’ evident control of the midfield and a couple of key stops by redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Adam Grinwis kept the score at 0-0 as a dull first half came to a close.
“I thought we did not control the final third (of the field),” Daley said. “I told them (at halftime) we needed to probe a little bit more and attack more. We had the ball a lot, but we were never really dangerous.”
Michigan must not have been too intent on Daley’s lecture, though. Bowling Green came out firing as it maintained persistent pressure on the the Wolverines’ outside defenders. In both the 47th and 50th minute, Bowling Green headed beautiful crosses past Grinwis to put them up 2-0 for good.
“For five to 10 minutes, we kind of had a half-hearted performance and they got two goals,” Daley said. “They scored on their chances and we didn’t. That’s soccer sometimes.”
Much like Michigan did in the first half, Bowling Green won the battle in the midfield early on in the second. The difference was simply converted opportunities. The Wolverines managed a few late chances in the final 15 minutes that included a missed penalty kick, but the Falcons remained too much for the typically defensive-minded Michigan squad.
The Wolverines will stay at home for the rest of the month, which will include their final three regular-season matches before the Big Ten Tournament. Michigan will look to get back on its feet before then, and there’s no better place to do so than inside the U-M Soccer Complex.
“Playing at home is fantastic,” Daley said. “I don’t think we’ve always taken advantage of the support we have here though. Our support with the Ultras is superb, and they show up rain or shine. They are a fantastic organization, and when they’re in full force they act as our 12th man.”