Written by: Michael Kroodsma
The Wolverines came up with 3 goals at home despite missing several key figures through injury and Francis Atuahene being dismissed less than a minute after the hosts opened the scoring.
Northwestern were surely hoping to stifle the Maize and Blue early on, but conceded in the 31st minute - Ivo Cerda scoring his second of the season. Just a minute after the restart, the Wildcats hopes were boosted when Francis was shown a straight red card for planting a boot into the thigh of a Northwestern player. Frankly, it was a deserved red card.
Despite being down a man, Michigan held Northwestern at bay for the remainder of the half.
In the second half it was center back Jackson Ragen, filling in for the injured Daniel Mukuna, that doubled the advantage for U of M. The freshman found space in the box and powered the ball past a hopeless Northwestern keeper to make it 2-0. Just 10 minutes later Northwestern pulled one back. Wildcat Striker Sean Lynch's low drive across goal went past Andrew Verdi and in at the far post to make it 2-1.
The match remained close until the final minutes of play. With less than a minute remaining, a Northwestern corner (on which the keeper had come up for) broke down and Jack Hallahan took off running. He raced past the defender to win the ball and with an empty net it was an easy finish to put the game to bed, 3-1.
This was an extremely important win for U of M. We said coming into this one that U of M would need to make a statement at home - and make a statement they did. Going down a man early on makes any match difficult, but the Wolverines coped well.
It was a smartly managed victory. Taking advantage of set piece opportunities was the difference between the sides - The first goal coming from a Michigan corner, the second through Jack Hallahan scoring on the counter attack following a Northwestern corner.
This win will be a boost in confidence for the side, especially for Jack Hallahan, who hasn't had the best run of form as of late. He got back on track with a goal and an assist. He's a highly skilled player and he showed that on Sunday.
Jackson Ragen and Peter Brown also deserve a lot of credit here. Filling in for Daniel Mukuna and Abdou Samake is no easy task, especially when down a man. Both have shown their abilities in the past few games, and Jackson's first career goal on Sunday will mean he can expect to see minutes, even when Samake and Mukuna return.
The Wolverines will be hoping to carry the momentum from this win into their mid-week non-conference match up against Oakland University, Wednesday at 7:30 pm at UMSS.
Tickets to that match can be found here.