Indiana, on a chilly fall afternoon, became the team to end Michigan’s nine-match unbeaten streak. Michigan were toppled 1-0 by the #2 ranked team in the country in a battle of the top two teams in the Big Ten.
Michigan avoided immediate disaster in the third minute from an Indiana free kick. Timmy Mehl, senior defender, hit the post on a free kick just a yard or two out of the box. Andrew Gutman, the star senior, put in the rebound, but it was ruled out for a handball. It was a close call for the Wolverines, but more defending was to come.
Henry Mashburn was busy and called into action several times. In the 29th, Indiana had another golden opportunity with Justin Rennicks’ run through the midfield and shot to Mashburn’s right. It took a key diving save to keep the shot out of the net. Another chance was from A.J. Palazzolo’s header off a cross, but Mashburn got down well to save the shot.
Michigan continued to do nice work defensively, but the match entered the half still level at 0-0. The second half was not too different than the first, with Michigan holding the ball wherever they pleased while Indiana looked dangerous on the break. With all the chances Indiana had previously, though, they would eventually find a goal from one of them. Griffin Dorsey slid Rece Buckmaster through as the defender/midfielder ran free on the right wing. He could then slide the ball past Mashburn and the Hoosiers would take a 1-0 lead.
From this moment, Indiana was able to play the way they have been (tighter and compact in defense, looking for moments to jump out on the break) but with a renewed purpose. Michigan had a couple of attempts, but nothing truly on goal. Daniel Mukuna’s header off a corner went high in the 66th, Jack Hallahan shot high and wide as well, but nothing seemed to work.
Chaka Daley made the move to bring on Abdou Samake for Marc Ybarra, who put in a strong shift, and move Jackson Ragen up top as central striker. It was something different and a change of pace, but it did not result in that elusive goal. Michigan could not find an equalizer and the score remained 1-0 to Indiana at final whistle.
Today’s game was dominated by Michigan’s center backs. Daniel Mukuna was faultless in the air today. Indiana looked often to alleviate pressure by pushing the ball up to Justin Rennicks, but Mukuna’s coverage on him was immense and allowed Michigan to keep possession in strong areas regularly. He was calm and cool on the ball, and he played like an absolute star today. Likewise, Jackson Ragen continued his stellar play with a number of key tackles, including a brilliant sliding tackle in the box. The result is not what anyone wanted, but Michigan fans can take the key positive that their center backs remain in top form.
The key match-up to watch, perhaps, was a battle of two Hermann Watch List players: Michigan man Jack Hallahan and Indiana star Andrew Gutman. Hallahan was held well by Gutman and quieted more than usual, but he was still dangerous on the right wing and sent in several nice crosses despite the attention from a standout defender.
Indiana’s defensive capabilities were on full display throughout the match. They sat back generally while Michigan had the ball, daring them to try and find the holes in their set up. Michigan had a difficult time doing so despite the nice work done in midfield to dictate play.
Michigan were happy to hold possession and did very nicely in keeping the ball, but the process of getting the ball in attacking positions is what confounded them. Occasional freedom was found down the wings, but the defensive ability of Gutman and Rece Buckmaster did not make things any easier to develop that way. Indiana’s response to their loss against #4 Kentucky was a resounding one in this match: that the three goals they let in against the SEC was not a common occurrence.
Marcello Borges returned from injury to put in a strong shift at left back, playing 70 minutes. Likewise, Austin Swiech did the same after being subbed off in the week at Oakland with a lower-leg injury. In other injury news, Mohammed Zakyi remains out with his own injury. The Ghanaian was in street clothes for the match and Noah Kleedtke got his fourth straight start leading the Michigan line. The hope will surely be that he will be available for the home stretch of the Big Ten season, with three more massive matches remaining.
On deck for Michigan is Detroit on October 10th at 7:30 PM. After that, it is six days rest for Michigan then a match with the current #15 team in the country, Notre Dame, on October 16th at 7:30 PM. Those are the final two matches of non-conference play and the Wolverines will surely hope to gain some confidence boosting results from them before the rest of Big Ten play.