The day after Michigan football’s ‘Revenge Tour’ continued onward over Penn State, Michigan soccer got a measure of retribution after a disappointing 1-1 draw in the two sides first meeting. Michigan dominated throughout the match en route to a 3-1 victory and set themselves up for a date with Wisconsin in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals.
Neither side gained an advantage as fifteen minutes came and went with no chances for either side on a blustery autumn afternoon. In the 16th minute, Austin Swiech found Noah Kleedtke who was free, but just took one too many touches and ultimately sent in a cross and no one could latch on to. Still, it was a sign of life and reason for optimism for the Wolverines fans in the crowd.
The 29th minute saw Michigan’s breakthrough. Marcello Borges sent in a long throw towards the box in the hope that someone would latch onto it. Umar Farouk Osman was the third man to attempt a play on it, but he did the best with it, drilling it with his favored left foot past a diving Josh Levine in Penn State’s net. Michigan was really running the match during the first half, but Penn State found a late equalizer themselves.
In the 43rd minute, second time was the charm for the Nittany Lions. Henry Mashburn sent the first of sophomore Callum Pritchatt’s in-swinging corner kicks away, but the second met Ryan Gallagher’s head from very close range. The Wolverines were stunned immediately before the half and now head to enter the locker room on level terms.
Michigan was fired up out of the break and regained the control they had lost for a quick moment. In the 53rd minute, Jack Hallahan’s service off a corner kick found Robbie Mertz, whose back heel toward the mouth of the goal was poorly cleared by the PSU defense. Osman was there at the right place with a rocket of a shot to drill it into the top left corner of the net, giving him his brace.
Michigan snagged a third and final (and game-clinching) goal in the 83rd minute from the boot of Hallahan. Lucas Rosendall, on the wing, picked the pocket of Austin Maloney in his team’s final third and got forward nicely, delivering a centering pass to Hallahan. Hallahan had to dance around a Nittany Lion defender in the box, but his shot was dead on and gave Michigan the two-goal cushion with less than ten minutes to play that they so desperately craved. The scoreline would hold at 3-1 in favor of the Wolverines.
Michigan was really a class above Penn State this evening, especially when compared to last meeting. Against the Nittany Lions in the regular season, Michigan had trouble with the strength and speed some of the players provided for Penn State. Tonight, though, credit has to go to the entire back line for holding very strong against the Penn State attack. PSU’s two key players who alternated at striker, senior Mac Curran and all-freshman selection Jeremy Rafanello were absolutely silenced when defended by Abdou Samake. On the right, Austin Swiech, for the second encounter in a row, nullified the attacking threat that sophomore Ethan Beckford provides on the wing. It was faultless from the back four and served as a highlight to why this Michigan team is where they are today.
Of course, the attack needs their credit too. Umar Farouk Osman was dropped into a central midfield role upon the injury to Ivo Cerda and has taken to it brilliantly. While capable as an attacking midfielder, this new position was a bit deeper than usual. It has not bothered Osman who plays more to the right of the midfield three, which allows him to link up consistently with Jack Hallahan. Speaking of Jack, the Englishman proved why he’s the Big Ten’s Offensive Player of the Year with another goal and assist to his name. His consistent form and moments of brilliance are keys to this Michigan side and will be key to propel them to Big Ten Tournament heights. Finally, Lucas Rosendall put in a brilliant shift on the wing, winning the ball and giving the assist to Hallahan’s goal. It was superb from the junior who really has put in some great work to his past few games as a starter and deserves much credit alongside those in the Michigan line-up for get more than he may.
On deck for the Wolverines is a key match with Wisconsin in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals. The match is on Friday November 9th at 3:30 PM in Westfield, Indiana. For those not making the trip, it will air live on Big Ten Network. These two teams met in the same situation last season, the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament, and Wisconsin ran away with a 4-0 victory. Michigan will hope to right this wrong and get a big victory in the hunt for an NCAA Tournament bid.