Written by: Michael Kroodsma
Michigan hosted the University of Detroit Mercy Titans to UMSS on a chilly Wednesday night. Despite being the favorites in this match, U of M looked disconnected from the beginning.
The team began the match with a strong, but slightly modified starting 11 - Henry Mashburn remained in goal following his performance against Ohio State. Meanwhile, Tristan Jacob began in place of Marc Ybarra in midfield, and Umar Farouk Osman started the match on the left.
Detroit sat very deep defensively, remained compact and worked hard to make things difficult for the Maize and Blue on Senior Night. The visitors game plan worked quite well. Michigan were able to create 4 goal scoring opportunities in the first half but none caused any real trouble for Josh Flamme in the Detroit goal.
Michigan surely weren't thrilled to be going in to the break level at 0-0.
The second half started better for the Wolverines - the introductions of Marc Ybarra and Jack Hallahan helping for the hosts. In the 74th minute, and with Michigan dominating the match, a long throw in was flicked on by Marc Ybarra. It fell kindly for Marcello Borges, who smashed his effort on target. Flamme made a strong save, but was unable to clear the ball away, and Francis Atuahene slammed the ball into the back of the net to make it 1-0.
It was a deserved breakthrough, as Michigan had been dominating for large portions of the second half.
With just over 15 minutes remaining, the home side sat back, allowed the Titans to come forward, and looked to kill the game off.
Detroit wouldn't give up, and forced Michigan into some tough situations, but in the end, it wasn't enough. Michigan closed out a difficult, but well earned 1-0 victory at home.
This is the kind of game that Michigan needed to win. With all due respect to Detroit, there shouldn't be any contest between these two sides. Michigan are ranked 19th in the NCAA poll, while Detroit sit in 111th. That said, the hallmark of a great team is winning when you don't play well, and that's exactly what Michigan did.
The first half was poor. It seemed like a 'hit and hope' approach for the home side, and their play looked disjointed. There was no connection between the defense and midfield, no connection between midfield and attack, and no connection in the final third. Every good opportunity seemed to be squandered away. The Wolverines didn't look on.
Then the second half kicked off and a bit of normalcy returned. Marc Ybarra made a big difference in possession - his presence in the middle of the field settled things down and allowed for Ivo Cerda and Robbie Mertz to push higher up the pitch.
Jack Hallahan added pace and width down the right, and helped to spread the game.
In the end it was a set piece that made the difference. Borges did well to force a save and Atuahene secured the result with a poachers finish.
Still, we got a very uneasy feeling watching this match. Michigan travel to Maryland on Sunday to take on the 12th ranked team in the nation. Surely Coach Chaka Daley will be disappointed at the amount he had to use some of his players on Wednesday, who will play their 3rd match in 8 days on Sunday. A performance of this caliber on Sunday will undoubtedly see Michigan lose, which (as we predicted in Take Aways) may mean missing out on the National Tournament.
Michigan will still host the Big Ten Quarterfinals on Sunday, Nov. 5th, but we're hoping the Wolverines put on a strong performance this weekend. If they don't it might mean their season ends a little bit earlier then they'd like.