EAST LANSING – Seconds after scoring a goal against Michigan
State, senior Mike White celebrated with a short jog around the
goal. Along the way, he deliberately flashed his Michigan jersey to
Spartan fans, holding it out from his chest triumphantly.

“I wanted to show some pride,” White said. “I like to think
about it before a game – kind of visualize myself scoring a goal
and doing a celebration. That just seems to get me to score more
often.”

White’s was the second of four goals the Wolverines (1-1 Big
Ten, 9-4 overall) netted to rise above the rival Spartans 4-2. Even
though Michigan won on the scoreboard, this game easily could have
been smeared by its opponent’s green-and-white determination.

During the first half, the 1,086-person crowd was forced to look
back and forth from goal to goal.

“Because you’re doing so much chasing (against Michigan State),
it was tough to get your rhythm and build out of that,” Michigan
coach Steve Burns said. “You’ve got to be a team now that can play
over all that pressure.”

In the 35th minute of play, senior defender Kevin Taylor broke
the scoreless tie with an easy penalty kick.

“It took a lot of stress off the guys in the back – that goal
was a real sigh of relief,” Taylor said.

Burns cited Taylor as one of Michigan’s keys to winning. With
his 6-foot-5 frame, Taylor headed many balls back toward his
opponent’s side of the field.

Taylor did all this even with fans harassing him about his
dreadlocked hair. The Michigan State soccer fans are known to be
some of the Big Ten’s harshest.

“When the crowd got on him for looking like Whoopi Goldberg, he
had a smile on his face, and we knew he was going to have a huge
game,” Burns said.

After White’s goal at the end of the half, it looked as if
Michigan would have a smooth ride to victory. And a third goal by
junior Knox Cameron, in the first minute of the second half, didn’t
hurt the Wolverines’ confidence.

“I think Knox Cameron did such a good job for us,” Burns said.
“He was a physical force, a goal-scoring presence and a dominant
player in the air.”

But two Michigan State goals in the next 10 minutes quickly
caused Michigan to lose its sense of security.

After more almost-goals by Michigan State, Michigan finally got
its breathing room. Freshman Kevin Savitskie made his first
collegiate goal in the 77th minute of play to give the Wolverines a
two-goal lead. The team sustained that lead to give it its
second-ever victory over Michigan State (1-1-2, 7-3-2).

On Friday, Michigan overcame Western Michigan 2-1. The
Wolverines will continue Big Ten play this weekend against
Northwestern and Wisconsin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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