Three goals in the first half set the tone for Michigan on Monday evening, capped by a wonder-goal from Jack Hallahan, as they downed Marquette by a score of 3-0.
The Wolverines were in for a quick couple nervous moments when Daniel Mukuna had to make a key one-on-one breakaway tackle in the fourth minute, then slipped while passing in the sixth minute giving Marquette forward Lukas Sunesson an opportunity. That chance, though, was scuffed it just wide. Despite the early scares, Michigan would have a powerful punch back to the opening body blow.
In the 13th minute, it was a bouncing ball outside the box that Austin Swiech followed and struck well. It saw a slight deflection, but it was picture-perfectly hit by the sophomore whose strike found the net. His first goal of the season was stellar, but there was more to come from the boys wearing blue. The very next minute, Umar Farouk Osman did incredibly to maneuver the ball around a few Marquette defenders in the box like a magician fooling an audience and found Robbie Mertz. It was clinical from the midfielder, and it was a quickfire double for the boys in blue.
The scoring was not finished yet in the first half. Jack Hallahan in the 29th took the pass from Marc Ybarra and had a go. It looked almost like a cross from the press box, but it had some brilliant bend on it and found the top right corner past a frozen keeper, that being freshman Cedrik Stern. It was an early goal of the season candidate from the Englishman who could not have hit it more perfectly. The goal gave the Wolverines an insurmountable three-goal halftime lead.
It was not sealed though, the Wolverines needed to see out the second half. Which they did with some early help from Henry Mashburn. The Honduran keeper was pressed into action with a hard shot from Sunesson, and the sophomore responded with a nice save in the 51st to avoid Marquette from getting back into the match right away.
Marquette had a couple of chances, Michigan too, but it was a back-and-forth affair that saw very few clear cut chances. A damper was put on the festivities, though, in the 71st as Swiech suffered an injury to his leg and was removed for the rest of the game, being replaced by Peter Brown. Michigan’s best chance of the half came on a Hallahan effort from a well-taken free kick in the 79th, forcing a save near post to the keeper’s left. In the end, though, neither side could find a second half goal and the score held at an impressive 3-0, putting Michigan’s fourth straight win in the books.
This game was brilliant to simply sit back and watch. The three goals from the Wolverines were all pieces of sheer brilliance on differing individual levels: the hit from Swiech, the footwork from Osman, the finish by Mertz after Osman’s shifty moves, and Hallahan’s unreal strike. All sublime pieces of work by some of Michigan’s top performers this season. The goals combined to make a first half that certainly made all Michigan fans proud.
Michigan needed about ten minutes to really find themselves in the match, but once they found their legs in the match, they really gave Marquette no chance to match their intensity. Marquette seemed intent on playing from the back and it rarely worked for them. Michigan closed down left, right, and center, capitalizing on even the slightest mistakes to regain position. Even if it was not an error leading to a goal, the pressure was consistently too much for the Golden Eagles.
As a whole, despite the individual work on the goals, it was a great team effort throughout the match. Daniel Mukuna and Jackson Ragen dealt well with the threats of Second-Team All-Big East selection last season Luka Prpa and frustrated Lukas Sunesson, the freshman forward leading Marquette in goals, all game. More praise has to be given to Austin Swiech who commands the right flank with authority. He may have a future in midfield, but right now right back is his, and one can only hope that his injury suffered in the second half was minor.
The nature of the match also meant Michigan fans got glimpses of some other players who have not received starting eleven levels of playing time. Freshman Sosa Emovon got a nice run out at center striker and offered some very glimpses of what he may offer with his hold-up play and ball movement. Senior Peter Brown also made a cameo for about 25 minutes and did well at the end of both halves to keep Michigan solid in the back line. Michigan finished the game with a wholly different midfield trio than they started with as sophomore Carlos Tellez, freshman Kevin Buca, and junior Joe Hertgen all saw time, with Tellez seeing the most of those three. With Big Ten play on the horizon, and with it coming games with higher stakes, any bit of experience for the younger players of the side will be key in giving Chaka Daley more trusted bench options.
Michigan returns to action on the 14th in an away match against Rutgers at 8 PM. From there, the maize and blue have a full week off before return home on the 21st against Penn State.