The season opener for Michigan saw them suffer heartbreak as they fell to Tulsa 2-1, who were buoyed by two first-half goals.
Michigan found themselves on the defensive almost immediately and keeper Henry Mashburn was forced to make a save on a free kick in just the second minute.
The pressure paid off for Tulsa and in the eleventh minute they found their breakthrough. Juan Sanchez did well to dribble through the Michigan back line and with Mashburn coming out as the last line of defense, Sanchez finished with a chip to put the visitors ahead.
Michigan thought they found an equalizer the next minute as Ivo Cerda headed Mohammed Zakyi on and he found the net from long range, but Zakyi was ruled offside much to the dismay of the Wolverine faithful.
But Zakyi would not be denied a goal.
Robbie Mertz was brought down just outside the box and Zakyi took the free kick. He did brilliantly to place it straight into the bottom right corner to level the score at one a piece.
Michigan was the more positive side for a spell following the goal and forced a couple of saves, both off set pieces. The first was off a Peter Brown free kick while the other came from a Jackson Ragen header off a corner. Despite this, it was Tulsa who closed the half on the front foot.
Declan Gaffney made a key tackle on Sanchez in the box to force a corner, but the corner met the head of Joe Ruiz who looped a header past Mashburn to give Tulsa the 2-1 lead just before the half.
The second half was a tale of flurries for Michigan, but no luck. The first came in the 60th minute when Ivo Cerda had a shot saved by Cooper Clark in net, then Lucas Rosendall's follow-up cross to Umar Farouk Osman was headed clear, before finally Cerda's second effort was saved and held.
The next set of chances saw Noah Kleedtke attempt to find Osman, but that was cleared vitally by Tulsa's Gustavo Vargas, or else Osman surely would have found the net. The corner that followed found Ragen's head as he moved closer to the penalty spot, but his effort was just wide. Kleedtke had the best chance of this spurt, though, as he tried a chip, but again, the Tulsa keeper came up with a key stop.
Michigan were dealt an 81st minute blow as Daniel Mukuna was sent off for a second yellow as he attempted a last-ditch tackle. The home side chased an equalizer while valiantly defending, but could never find that second goal. Jackson Ragen's last second effort was too tame to trouble the keeper and Tulsa walked away with the season-opening victory.
There is no reason to panic yet about the Wolverines suffering this early season defeat. All four of Michigan's defenders were returning players, but Peter Brown saw most of his time at left back last season, not on the right as he did tonight. There was also a more unfamiliar center back pairing as Daniel Mukuna and Jackson Ragen got the start together. Additionally, the Tulsa attack threatened with pace all night and it made things difficult on the new starters. Sanchez was menacing on the attack as his speed and trickery allowed him to finish nicely on the first goal while his speed forced the corner kick that led to the second goal.
There were plenty of positive notes to take from this match as well for the Wolverines. Zakyi was constantly threatening to the Tulsa defense and he created plenty of great chances. His goal was thoroughly deserved and an obvious high point of the night. His country mate, Osman, also lived up to the number ten shirt as well as he demonstrated some great skill at times with a tough match up against Tulsa's senior outside back/midfielder Munashe Raranje. Despite standing just 5'8", Osman was able to snag a couple headed chances for Michigan and looked to have plenty of potential to continue development as his season continues.
Matches like this are also nice to gauge what sort of line-ups coach Chaka Daley plans on using throughout the season. We saw Brown get the start on the right and play some strong defense to snuff out a handful of Tulsa attacks. Noah Kleedtke was also the first striker off the bench coming on for Zakyi and he made his presence known with perhaps the best chance of the second half. Declan Gaffney was the only freshman to see playing time at left back and he also was impressive. His speed looks like it could be a great option on the left flank attacking wise to go with tracking back as well.
Michigan will have to make sure to get past this setback and not allow themselves to dwell too long. They suffered a handful of disappointing results early last season as well, but of course their Big Ten season was what defined the team. They will get their chance to make amends as they square off with another side from the American Conference, South Florida, at 7 PM on Monday.