MADISON When Michigan goalkeeper Brian Lau stopped a scorching shot from Wisconsin”s Erol Goknur with 27 seconds left yesterday in the first round game of the Big Ten Tournament, the Wolverines”1-0 upset over the Badgers was sealed.
Using an opportunistic offense, a physical man-marking defense and tremendous goalkeeping from Lau, Michigan secured its program”s first postseason victory.
The Wolverines” ace goalkeeper Joe Zawacki (red card), their top defender Kevin Taylor (academic reasons), and James Baez-Silva (red card) all sat out the game.
And to make things worse, Michigan, which has relied on scoring first all season, had to play against a stiff lake wind in the first half.
But it found the poise to attack the wind early and drew first blood against a Wisconsin team intent on pressuring the inexperienced Lau. Midfielder Knox Cameron jumped on a turnover around the 18-yard line, dribbled into the penalty box and drilled a shot past Wisconsin goalkeeper Phil Ayoub at 15:59 of the first half for the game”s only tally.
“It was a huge goal,” Cameron said. “We weren”t expecting much against the wind in the first half.”
Shortly after Cameron”s goal, Wisconsin”s John McGrady lofted a high shot. Lau nearly backed into the net making the save making sure the ball did not cross the goal line.
For the remaining 25 minutes of the first half, the Badgers sent a flurry of scoring chances towards the Michigan net. The majority were created by Wisconsin forward Aaron Lauber (four shots on goal).
With under seven minutes left in the opening frame, Wisconsin had its best chance to tie the game. Inside the penalty box, Lauber beat several Michigan defenders to the left post, but hesitated in shooting the ball, allowing Michigan defender Dave George to slide-tackle the ball away.
Having dodged several bullets before halftime, Burns opted to challenge offensively-talented forward Mychal Turpin to mark Lauber throughout the second half.
“I noticed that (Turpin) stepped in more later in the game to shut down our guys out wide,” DaPra said. “We didn”t get as many crosses as we did earlier in the game, and that may have been the difference, that little change.”
For all the strategic adjustments, the game was ultimately decided by, who seemed to be in proper place for every one of his 12 saves.