It may be the most scrutinized relationship in America today: a father, his son and a sport. Although fathers are encouraged to support their youngsters in all of their sporting endeavors, many are criticized for pressuring their sons to the extent that they will no longer want to play.
But this isn’t the case with junior Kevin Robinson and his father. In fact, just last Saturday, a few hours before Michigan’s game against Oakland, Robinson happily took note of a simple request from the old man.
“At 10 o’clock this morning, my dad called and he said, ‘You need to shoot some more,'” Robinson said.
This advice was very simple, but also extremely effective. At 74:11, Robinson heeded his dad’s advice when he saw Oakland’s keeper out of position, and launched a rocket to the back of the net, from 25 yards out, for the eventual game-winner.
The 2-1 victory over the Golden Grizzlies, Michigan’s regular-season finale, improved the Wolverines’ overall record to 9-6-2.
In the first half, the Wolverines looked very sluggish offensively, and weren’t able to adjust to an attack without sophomore Knox Cameron, who left the team last week to represent the United States on the Under-20 national team.
“At halftime, I told the team that we were playing very stagnant and we needed to pick it up a notch,” Burns said.
But the Wolverines continued to coast through the game early in the second half, and Oakland took advantage of this on a corner kick at 61:28. Anders Vollen took the corner, and sent the ball to the far post, towards his teammate Ryan Rzepka. Rzepka rose above the Michigan defense and headed the ball past Michigan goalkeeper Peter Dzubay to give the Grizzlies a 1-0 advantage.
Shocked at the 1-0 deficit, the Wolverines countered less than four minutes later, evening the score at one. The play began when Tom Gritter sent a bouncing ball up the right side to a streaking Mike White. White drove the ball all the way to the end line, then served up a beautiful pass across the goal to Ian Hirshfield, who one-timed the ball through the posts. Although the goal was Hirshfield’s first score in over two years, when he netted the program’s first ever mark in 2000, his offensive surge helped wake up a struggling Michigan attack.
“We had Ian Hirshfield in the game as an attacking-mid, to give us some good movement because Ian’s got a big engine, and he can cover a lot of ground on the field,” Burns said. “He was coming from an attacking position, and getting around on the overlap in the flank to create difficult situations for the defense to figure out, and that started to get the movement and started to get a little flow going.”
Michigan continued an aggressive attack, creating multiple scoring opportunities, and this offensive resurgence led to Robinson’s score, which was his second straight game-winning goal at Michigan Soccer Field. Robinson has now scored a point in five straight contests, and this newfound offense pleases Burns.
“I am glad to see him step up, the way he has in Knox Cameron’s absence,” Burns said. “The challenge was out there for our entire team as to who was going to step up and Kevin has been that person. He has provided an immediate impact for us off the bench.”
The victory over the Grizzlies took a huge monkey off of coach Burns’s back.
“I have been playing this team since 1984 – as a club player, club coach and against them as a varsity coach,” Burns said. “That’s 18 years it has taken to finally beat this team. Now, here we are in our third year, and it looks like the tide hopefully has turned, where we no longer face recruiting battles with these guys and we can consider ourselves the best team in the state.”