SALINE — Redshirt junior Tom McCurdy was sick of playing it safe.
Instead of starring on the Michigan club soccer team for a third straight year, he decided to take a risk and try out for varsity.
He endured physically grueling tryouts, battling for a roster spot. Then McCurdy finally jogged out onto the field as a Wolverine midway through the first half of Sunday’s game against Oregon State.
It didn’t take him long to make his presence felt.
McCurdy entered the game in the 26th minute and, less than a minute later, set up senior forward Jake Stacy, who drove an 18-yard shot into the net.
Stacy’s goal — and McCurdy’s first career point — gave the Wolverines a two-goal advantage. Michigan went on to beat the Beavers 4-0 Sunday at Hornet Stadium Field in Saline.
The Wolverines controlled the entire game, outshooting Oregon State 17-4. Four different players scored.
“We have a lot of offensive weapons, and we’re always looking to get forward,” Stacy said.
Solid play from starters and strong performances from reserve players allowed Michigan to coast to its Sunday victory.
Because his debut was a few years in the making, McCurdy’s performance was a little more special than most.
McCurdy’s story isn’t that uncommon for this program. Michigan coach Steve Burns led the club soccer team for nine years before the program gained varsity status in 2000, and he always keeps an eye out for club talent.
“Any time there’s a guy who is a first team club player at a national level — that’s a Division I athlete,” Burns said. “Tom was that selection, I believe, last year, and we knew he was going to fit in.”
McCurdy said although he was worried how he’d interact with teammates, everyone has been friendly and welcoming. And of course, he feels comfortable on the soccer field.
“A lot of things were going through my mind,” McCurdy said of his first appearance. “I was a little anxious, excited. It was a mix of feelings, but overall, I was just really, really looking forward to getting a chance to get on the field.”
The relentless Wolverine defense complemented the team’s fiery offense. Players hustled to keep pressure on the Beavers and forced turnovers. Redshirt junior goalkeeper Patrick Sperry made two saves to record his 14th career shutout.
Michigan opened its regular season Friday night with a 4-3 victory over Wisconsin-Green Bay. The Wolverines (2-0-0) relied on late-match heroics from junior forward Peri Marosevic, who scored the game-winning goal in the 79th minute of the contest.
Michigan hopes to play at its new soccer complex during its next home stand starting Sept. 12. Even though the fields aren’t located within walking distance of central campus, Burns sees the new complex as a sign of progress.
“I think it shows that our administration is looking to raise the level of soccer on our campus, and that’s everything a coach can ask for,” Burns said.