Time and time again the Michigan men’s soccer team comes up short in close games. Ten of their 12 loses have been one-goal games. On Sunday, the Wolverines played another one-goal game. And again, Michigan lost another one-goal game.
The Wolverines lost its second-straight game to Michigan State in a close 1-0 match at the Spartan’s DeMartin Soccer Stadium. The only goal of the game came in the 73rd minute when Michigan State’s redshirt freshman defender Ryan Keener headed the ball past Wolverine goalkeeper Adam Grinwis on a corner kick.
Michigan (1-4 Big Ten, 5-12-1 overall) outhshot Michigan State 14-9, including a 9-4 shots on goal advantage, but still couldn’t get on the scoreboard.
“Overall, I thought we played pretty well,” said Michigan coach Steve Burns. “We did a lot of the things we wanted to do in terms of establishing the possession, dictating the rhythm of the game and creating some decent chances. But in the end we really lacked that killer instinct and the ability to put the ball in the back of the net.”
The Wolverines have struggled to find goals this year, scoring just 22 goals in 18 regular-season games. The scoring struggles are partly due to the team’s inexperience, with 12 freshmen on the roster.
“We’ve put some young guys on the field that we weren’t expecting to be on the field as much as they were,” Burns said. “Those guys are gaining a lot of experience and certainly they will be able to convert that experience into the form of wins in the future.”
Still Michigan continues to come up short in close games.
“Every one of those loses hurts,” Burns said. “We don’t hang our hat on the fact we can play close games but not win.”
Michigan’s first opportunity of the game came when junior midfielder Latif Alashe found the foot of freshman striker Mathew Rickard who sent a shot far of the post. The attack returned in the 50th minute when freshmen striker Tyler Arnone blasted a shot from the top of the box that nearly beat Michigan State’s goalkeeper.
Burns said he was pleased with Alashe’s play in midfield, Tyler Arnone up top and junior defender Kofi Opare in the back. Burns also thought that redshirt freshman midfielder Nick Lewin did a great job playing his role in breaking up the Spartan attack and starting the play from the back.
The Wolverines will try to correct their offensive woes when they play Northwestern on Saturday.
“The most important (aspect) is putting the ball in the back of the net,” Burns said. “Obviously a strong performance and a win over Northwestern is something that would help.”