As time expired on the Michigan soccer team’s 2-1 overtime victory over University of Central Florida in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Nov. 21, the players and the student section converged on the sideline in jubilant celebration.
Senior forward Justin Meram, who scored the tying goal in the second half of the game, took off his shirt to celebrate the dramatic come-from-behind victory. But in the heat of the moment, Meram lost his white number nine jersey and he’s calling on the Michigan Ultras — the exuberant fan group that’s been a fixture on the sidelines at all the men’s soccer home games this season — to help him track it down.
LSA freshman and Ultras Vice President Nate Hoff said in an interview that Meram lost his jersey while “crowd surfing.”
“After the game (Meram) was waving (his jersey) around, and then he stopped and just had it in his hand. He ended up crowd surfing, almost,” Hoff said. “At that point I’m pretty sure he just had it in his hand and I guess it got dropped or someone grabbed it.”
Meram wrote on the Ultra’s Facebook wall Monday morning to notify the group of his missing jersey.
“ULTRAS. PLEASE START THE SEARCH FOR MY JERSEY 🙂 I KINDA NEED IT,” Meram wrote.
After Meram’s Facebook post, Hoff sent out an e-mail to the Ultras listserv and a Facebook message to the members of the Ultras group requesting the jersey be returned.
“In the wild post-match celebration, someone wandered off with Justin Meram’s jersey (#9),” Hoff wrote. “He really needs this back.”
“No one is going to be mad, Justin just wants the jersey back so he can play,” Hoff added, encouraging anyone who had the jersey, or anyone who knew about the shirt’s whereabouts, to contact an Ultras executive officer.
Hoff said no one has yet to reply to his e-mail or Facebook message with any pertinent information regarding the location of the missing jersey.
Athletic Department Sports Information Director Jessica Poole said she was not aware of the incident and declined to comment on Meram’s missing jersey when she was contacted yesterday afternoon.
Players have two white jerseys — a long-sleeved and a short-sleeved — each valued at $70, according to Hoff. Meram was sporting the short-sleeved version in the game against UCF.
Meram scored two goals in Sunday’s game, when Michigan beat South Carolina 3-1 in Columbia, S.C. to advance to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament. The Wolverines wore their blue kits on Sunday, so the missing white jersey wasn’t an issue.
The No. 10 seed Wolverines will face No. 3 seed Maryland on Saturday in College Park, Md. It’s unknown whether Michigan will wear blue or white uniforms against the Terrapins.
If Michigan wins on Saturday, the team will advance to the College Cup — the final four of NCAA soccer — that will take place on Dec. 10 and Dec. 12 in Santa Barbra, Calif.