Written by: Billyle Alman
Could not have asked for better conditions as it was a beautiful night out for this opener at UMSS. First things first, Andrew Verdi was the decision at goalkeeper for the Wolverines. The other lineup detail of note was of course the absence of Francis Atuahene in the starting XI.
As the visiting William & Mary squad earned a 4-0 home result against umich in 2016, the revenge factor was in play here in Ann Arbor for this regular season kickoff. The visiting Tribe, though healthy with returning talent, chose to sit in deep in the early minutes of the match. Michigan enjoyed the majority of early possession earning 2 corner kicks in the first ten minutes.
The turning point came in the 11th minute when sophomore, Jack Hallahan beat a defender on the right wing, served a low cross that met the hand of a William & Mary defender, resulting in a penalty kick of the Maize and Blue. With numerous returning player options to approach the spot, it was newcomer Mohammed Zakyi who took stepped up to the marker. The freshman standout took his shot high to the right in an unreachable area giving Michigan the early 1-0 lead.
The Wolverines continued their excellent play hanging on to the one goal lead. The early caution for umich fans came in the form of a pull up sprint in Zakyi. The freshman was replaced by Lucas Rosendall in the 22nd minute.
Coach Daley’s selections at centerback, Daniel Mukuna and Abdou Samake, showed no signs of inexperience as they were each credited with big time tackles in the first half. Michigan executed a great first half game plan collectively as they were able to contain the opposing team’s preseason All-American, Antonio Bustamante. With no major stoppages, the halftime whistle blew, Wolverines leading 1-0.
The second half featured a lineup the same group that started the match minus the change at the #9 spot as Lucas Rosendall stayed plugged in at forward. Tristan Jacob was an early standout as a game time swap for the injured Ivo Cerda in the center of the pitch.
Michigan was able to weather some dangerous William & Mary chances early in the second half. Play continued to open up for both sides in the the following minutes, but both goalkeepers were able to come up with saves to keep the score at 1-0.
The center referee chose to stop the clock often starting in the 78th minute. The Tribe of Milliam & Mary threw numbers forward in the final 5 minutes, but Michigan was able to hold on. Umich earned their first victory of 2016 as the referee blew the whistle. Michigan 1 - William & Mary 0.
It’s great to have Jack Hallahan back. He caused problems for William Mary on the right flank throughout the match.
Our MSN Man of the Match came in the form of perhaps this club’s biggest question, the goalkeeper. Andrew Verdi was outstanding. He took risks leaving his line, came up with tackles outside the 18, and made an enormous save in the 78th minute. One game under the books, Daley made the right choice at goalkeeper.
Ybarra in addition to the entire backline deserve mentions. The freshman sat in at the #6 for 90 minutes. His effort combined with the full match put in by all four defenders is the highlight of this clean sheet that has to build needed confidence for this group.
1-0-0 on the season and a result without Francis Atuahene and only 22 minutes from Zakyi is a big positive. The negative is their absence. Quick turnaround for the Wolverines as they host Valparaiso Monday night. The debut of Francis could be the needed spark for this group on short rest. We will pay close attention to the availability of Mohammed Zakyi as well.