Junior Mychal Turpin’s performance Sunday was special.
He set a school record by netting four goals in a game, climbing to the top of the all-time scoring list with 19 career goals. He became the first Wolverine to rack up two natural hat tricks. But most importantly, Turpin propelled the Michigan men’s soccer team to a thrilling 4-3 overtime victory over UNC Greensboro.
“Mychal Turpin is finding open space behind our opponent’s defense and we are finding him with the ball,” coach Steve Burns said. “He is such a dangerous player that once we find him with the ball, he finishes the play.”
Turpin’s strength is his ability to score. He has the skill to dribble through a defense and create shots for himself. But most of the time, Turpin can focus on finding a crease and slipping through the defense without the ball. His teammates make this possible by knowing how and when to get it to him. Teamwork and the ability to find the open man have become the bread and butter of this team.
“These guys have a good understanding of how to open up spaces and find each other,” Burns said.
One of the best connections on the team is between Turpin and senior tri-captain Mike White. Having played together the last three seasons, White and Turpin have developed great chemistry.
“When we’re in a game, I usually know what Mychal is going to do,” White said. “What runs he’s going to make, when he’s going to lay it off, so I can base my play off of him.”
White, who has piled up the third-most assists in team history, is entering his second season as a captain. He is aware of his leadership responsibilities, saying he tries to be a vocal leader in the lockerroom, but prefers to let his play on the field do the talking.
“I think I am more of a leader by example,” White said.
Part of the reason why White and Turpin have been successful early in the season is attributed to playing together over the summer. Burns said the dedication of his players to play soccer year-round has them playing great unusually early in the season.
“Normally in a college soccer season, you’re going to come together hopefully by the middle of October, then there is still four weeks left in your season,” Burns said. “The team is coming together ahead of schedule.”
So while no one on the team is ecstatic about a 4-2 record, the players and coaches know that better days lie ahead of them if they continue to perform in unity.
“When 11 players are all in form and the team’s in form, it’s a pretty special feeling how you can move the ball around and defend as a unit and ultimately win games over ninety minutes,” Burns said.