STATE COLLEGE — The Michigan men’s soccer team defeated Wisconsin on Friday, 1-0, to advance to the Big Ten Tournament finals for the first time since 2002.
The Wolverines came out attacking, earning 14 shots in the first half, as Wisconsin sat back and played defense. The Badgers did not tally one shot on goal in the half.
As the second half began, however, the pace of play was no longer one sided. The Badgers quickly got several shots on target, forcing the Wolverines to step up defensively.
With 22 minutes left, the scoreboard at Jeffrey Field still read 0-0 and the sides took a break for a media time-out.
Shortly after the break the Badgers had a streak of counter attacks. Freshman Wisconsin forward Chris Prince looked determined to score.
But Michigan had its own leader up top. With 13 minutes left, Big Ten Freshman of the Year Soony Saad made a run with the ball and received it back inside the box after a 1-2 with his brother, Hamoody. The ball found the back of the net, putting the Wolverines up in the semifinals and putting Saad in a tie as the nation’s leading scorer.
Once the team had finally established a lead, the Wolverines and Badgers changed roles. For the Wolverines, the clock could not run down quickly enough. Even with some last-minute offense for Wisconsin, Michigan held on to win, 1-0.
The Wolverines will play the winner of Indiana and Penn State on Sunday.
“We do not care who we play next,” Michigan coach Steve Burns said. “They are both good teams.”
On Sunday, Michigan will fight for its first Big Ten championship. The Wolverines last played in a Big Ten Tournament final matchup in 2002, when they lost to Penn State, 2-1, here in State College.