It took five years and 22 days for the Michigan men’s soccer team to be defeated at the hands of Big Ten rival Wisconsin.
It was a 2-1 overtime loss against the Badgers on Sept. 17, 2006 in Madison. Just like in 2006, the Wolverines lost this past Sunday 2-1.
“We had a team that was very different from the team we have right now in 2011,” said Michigan coach Steve Burns of the 2006 team.
Right now the Wolverines boast a rather young roster, with freshmen midfielder Tyler Arnone and forward Matthew Rickard starting, and freshman midfielder Luca Schioppa giving the team fresh legs late in the game.
Michigan was 10-2-3 all-time against Wisconsin entering Sunday’s game, but it was just coming off of a defeat to Western Michigan on Wednesday.
“I think you can talk about a Michigan team that believes in themselves,” Burns said. “And also, how we’re capable of playing versus a Michigan team that doesn’t doubt themselves.”
Although the Wolverines have dominated the series lately, it hasn’t been easy. Last year, the teams faced twice and both games were decided by only one goal. Similarly, when Michigan lost in 2006 to the Badgers, there was also a one-goal difference.
Wisconsin came into this matchup with a five-game unbeaten streak. After the Badgers scored the game’s first two goals in the first half, it was an uphill battle for the Wolverines until they finally scored midway through the second-half. But it wasn’t enough. There was also a physical presence throughout the game, as Wisconsin tallied 18 fouls and Michigan only 3.
There wasn’t one player on the current Michigan roster who graduated high school the last time the Badgers defeated the Wolverines in 2006. And even with the five-year streak of victories against Wisconsin, Burns doesn’t think that played a contributing role.
“Every Big Ten game is a game that you want to win,” Burns said. “You know, plain and simple, some are bigger than others. I don’t think we really dwelled on the rivalry of this.”
Junior defender Kofi Opare, who scored Michigan’s lone goal, shared similar feelings.
“This is Big Ten soccer and anybody can beat anybody,” Opare said. “To lose to Wisconsin is a disappointment because it would have been nice to win and keep on track with the Big Ten, but with that being said, we’re still in the running for the Big Ten.”