The Michigan men’s soccer team is looking to carry the momentum from its last-minute win against Ohio State into its game Saturday against Penn State.
The Wolverines (1-1 Big Ten, 3-5 overall) managed a spectacular late goal at midfield from the foot of freshman Jack Brown in its overtime contest. Penn State (1-1, 6-3-1), however, wasn’t so lucky in its own overtime game against Indiana as it conceded a late goal with 4:57 left in the second overtime period.
The win against the Buckeyes may be the turning point in this young season for the Wolverines, as the month of September had been characterized by close losses against four top-25 teams. Michigan coach Chaka Daley has put his team in contention late in nearly every game, but in most the Wolverines fell short.
Michigan looks to continue riding high on its first conference win, while the Nittany Lions aim to jump back into the national rankings after a heartbreaking loss at home.
“I think that it was important to get the mental edge (against Ohio State) and hopefully turn the page against Penn State,” Daley said.
Both teams will look to build on a .500 conference record and a middle-of-the-pack standing in the Big Ten. The Wolverines have been able to garner momentum early in games, outscoring their opponents 7-3 in the first half.
That may be a challenge this weekend, going up against the conference’s best defense. The Nittany Lions have allowed just five goals this season, putting more pressure on Michigan to create early scoring opportunities in order to compete with their stingy back line.
Daley says he believes he’ll have the Wolverines ready for another tough contest, though.
“We’ve played a lot of ranked opponents this season,” Daley said. “It’s been tough because guys have second guessed if we can get results, even though we’ve played well.”
The crucial victory against Ohio State seemingly indicates an edge in momentum for the Wolverines on Saturday. Michigan will also look for the continued support of the rowdy Ultras, the Michigan student section, who rushed the field after last weekend’s overtime thriller.
“The expectation when you’re at home is to win,” Daley said. “There’s so much energy and the Michigan Ultras are always in full effect.”
The Wolverines will look for the same energy that carried the squad over the Buckeyes, as they hope to turn their hard-fought efforts against quality opponents into the positive results Daley has been looking for.