STATE COLLEGE – Junior midfielder Mike White showed yesterday that his incredible regular season was no fluke, when he scored the game winning goal of a 1-0 win against No. 7 seed Northwestern in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament.

“Whitey is a guy who comes up big in big games and scores goals,” Michigan coach Steve Burns said.

The game-winner, White’s eighth goal of the year, gives him 23 points on the season and moves him into a second-place tie on the team. This impressive point total proves how well White has played this season, especially when compared to his first two campaigns. During 2000 and 2001, a combined 34 games, White scored just two goals and had two assists each season – a total of 12 points.

But White does more than just add goals to the scoreboard and feed balls to his teammates. He brings intangibles to the field that help give his team the opportunity to win. Certain assets, such as leadership and composure, are seen during the 90 minutes of a soccer game, but don’t get printed in the box scores.

“Mike’s a guy with great leadership ability on the field,” Burns said of his captain. “He keeps composure and stays real positive with his teammates and the team feeds off him. Whitey’s a brave, strong guy who doesn’t fear injury and because of (that he) fits his leadership role extremely well.”

The remarkable thing about White’s goal was that five minutes earlier, he had just missed on a very similar opportunity. In the 20th minute, attacking freshman midfielder Adam Bruh used a free kick to setup White, who had slid behind the Northwestern defense and into the keeper box. From about 30 yards out, along the left sideline, Bruh sent a seemingly perfect lob in to White, who had an unlucky touch on his half-volley attempt and sent his shot wide left. But White didn’t get frustrated; he took advantage of a similar Bruh cross in the 25th minute, this time using his head. White met the ball in the center of the keeper box and headed it into the left corner past the outstretched arms of Northwestern’s keeper.

“We know he’s going to make that near post run on balls that get served in,” Burns said. “He had a couple of chances today, but didn’t become despondent or get upset and continued to plug away. He’s always there lurking and that’s where goals are scored.”

If it wants to earn a spot in the finals, Michigan will need White’s strong play and leadership to continue today versus No. 6 seed Michigan State.

“We need more than just one Mike White on this team, but were glad we at least got him,” Burns said.

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