“We all feel like we got our guts ripped out.”
Those were the words of Michigan men’s soccer coach Steve Burns after he was told that his team was not given an at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament.
Despite finishing in a tie for second in the Big Ten standings and coming up one goal shy of the conference tournament title this past weekend, the Wolverines’ season came to an end yesterday, when the field of 48 was announced live on ESPNEWS at 4:30 p.m. yesterday.
Michigan (3-3 Big Ten, 11-7-2) was a bit shocked to see that just two Big Ten teams (Indiana and Penn State, winners of the regular season and tournament championships, respectively) earned bids. Last season the conference sent four teams to the tournament.
“We thought we would get it,” junior midfielder Ian Hirschfield said. “But we weren’t up there, and it kind of sucked. There’s not much else to say.”
The team gathered in the media room of Crisler Arena and dressed up for the cameras, expecting to celebrate the first bid in the three-year history of the program. But when the announcement was made, Burns wasted little time before shifting the team’s focus to next season.
“Failure isn’t getting knocked down, failure’s staying down,” Burns said. “We have to prepare so 364 days from now we don’t feel this way.”
At this point next year, Michigan will have finished its first season with a full complement of scholarship players. While Burns was pleased that his team was in position to make the tournament after an 0-3 start to the Big Ten season, he still sees brighter skies ahead.
The Wolverines have shown steady improvement in each of Burns’ first three seasons at the helm. After a 6-10-0 record two years ago in its inaugural campaign, Michigan improved to 10-7-1 last year.