The Michigan men’s soccer team is coming together at the right time. The Wolverines (1-1-1 Big Ten, 4-5-1 overall) are undefeated in their last three home games against Ohio State, Penn State and Oakland.
“The boys are finally getting paid off for the hard work they’ve done this season,” said Michigan assistant coach Tommy McMenemy. “We’ve worked hard as a staff as well, and you’re starting to see results. We’re not surprised, but we’re building confidence with each result.”
On Saturday, Michigan will look to continue its unbeaten streak, and, in turn, end its road woes when it travels to Madison to take on Wisconsin (0-2, 3-6-3). The Wolverines are winless in three tries on the road this year, scoring just two goals in those games.
Unlike Michigan’s recent success, the Badgers have struggled lately, losing four of their last five matches. They have scored just three goals during the five-game stretch.
This trend may continue with redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Adam Grinwis leading the Wolverines’ defense.
Grinwis was named last week’s defensive player of the week after his 12-save performance in a draw against Penn State and after his shutout victory against the high-scoring Grizzlies on Tuesday. Grinwis and the Wolverines should be feeling pretty good about their chances against Wisconsin.
Michigan coach Chaka Daley still won’t coach from the sidelines after suffering a knee injury before Tuesday’s match. In his place, McMenemy will assume the head coaching duties this weekend. But things won’t seem very different without Daley on the sideline.
“The plan is already in place,” McMenemy said. “We work on it in practice. The coaches will just relay the information that coach Daley has already put in place. He has a smooth operation going, so there’s not a ton to step up and do.”
The past week of practice without Daley has put pressure on the Wolverines to be efficient and organized in preparing for Wisconsin. Especially with less than a week in between games, effective scouting can be difficult even with a healthy head coach.
“It is a lot more challenging in the sense you can’t prepare from a tactical standpoint,” McMenemy said. “You improve your strength and tighten up your weaknesses. We’re very confident we have enough information on our opponent though. Coach Daley has put together an incredible plan to stay fresh for the season.”
Daley’s presence will still be felt on Saturday from the press box. McMenemy has expressed his confidence that Michigan will come ready to play, even without Daley on the sidelines.
“If we recreate the work rate and the attitude they took against Oakland, (and) we’re aggressive early on and really come to play, we’ll let the performance take care of the result,” McMenemy said.