Playing on the Varsity Soccer Field for the first time this year, the men’s soccer team fought through an overcast sky, winds and frigid temperature, but couldn’t weather the storm of Penn State (0-1 Big Ten, 5-3 overall).
The Wolverines (2-3-1, 0-1) opened up the Big Ten season yesterday with a contest against the Nittany Lions, but the outcome was a heartbreaking 1-0 loss.
In the 73rd minute of the game, Penn State forward Kenji Treschuk took a pass just outside the box from Brian Devlin, and boomed a low, bouncing kick through the Michigan defense and into the goal. The game’s only score took Michigan by surprise.
“We weren’t expecting (the shot),” sophomore forward Mychal Turpin said. “That shot is something you sometimes give them because you don’t want them to be inside your box.”
Treschuk’s score came at a time when the Wolverines felt they were in command of the match.
“The whole game was back and forth,” Turpin said. “We started to control the game a little bit in the second half, but they got a lucky bounce at the top of the box, and the guy hit a nice shot to the low corner.”
Although the game featured just one goal, there was no lack of excitement. There were many stirring offensive rushes with each team producing five shots on goal. The two teams also combined for 17 corner kicks.
The Wolverines generated many scoring opportunities, but just couldn’t put it home. One of Michigan’s best scoring opportunities came with six seconds left, when freshman Adam Bruh sent a beautiful crossing pass through the box, but no one was able to punch it through the posts.
Although the loss hurt the Wolverines’ record, coach Steve Burns wasn’t displeased with the effort.
“We created a lot of chances,” Burns said. “And we’re never satisfied with defeat, but there’s improvement with our team, and there’s a sense of confidence with our team.”
Overall, Michigan played solid defense, keeping the Big Ten’s leading scorer Chad Severs off the scoresheet.
Burns sees the loss as a learning experience, and is content with improvements his team is starting to make.
“We didn’t get the result we wanted today, but this is another good little step forward for us,” Burns said. “We’re creating a lot in front of the net, the movement’s there, and now it’s just a question of ‘can we get the timing of those finishing runs?'”
With two straight losses coming directly after a three-game undefeated streak, the season seams to be a rollercoaster of ups and downs. But Burns has remained calm, and continues to exert patience with his players.
“There’s no panic button being pushed,” Burns said. “We just stay the course with how we’ve been training, and with the intensity of training that’s been there.”
On Friday, the Wolverines arrived at Elbel Field, ready to take on the Oakland Golden Grizzlies, but due to heavy rains, lightning, and poor field conditions, the match was canceled. The contest was rescheduled for Nov. 10 at Oakland.