There was a severe weather delay in the match right before halftime, but Michigan’s goal off a set piece before the match halted temporarily clinched the match in their favor, and they only added to the lead once play resumed, eventually winning 3-1.
It was nearly all Michigan from the start of the match. Michigan dominated possession early on, but only had one true clear chance off a shot from Austin Swiech in the 12th. Eventually their breakthrough would come though. It was Jack Hallahan’s very nice in-swinging corner kick, which met Daniel Mukuna’s head and went perfectly past the keeper. It was another early goal from Michigan, who now have seven goals in eight matches that have occurred within the first 25 minutes of play.
Michigan pushed forward and continued to make chances. Just two minutes later, Umar Farouk Osman was tackled vitally by Ohio State defender Osman Fofanah to prevent a shot going on target. About 15 minutes later, Hallahan had a go himself with what is turning into a signature cut inside and fire with his left foot, but that shot went just wide. That was in the 38th minute. Just three minutes after, a massive lightning flash lit up the sky overhead and thunder rumbled in the Ann Arbor sky. The game was delayed with 4:18 left in the first half.
Fortunately for the leading Wolverines, the game would resume. The final 4:18 were played with no incident, the teams had a quick break, then the second half would begin. Michigan continued to dominate possession and run of play. Xavier Green, freshman for Ohio State, had a go in the 55th, but the shot went high. This really was Ohio State’s best chance of the night before the final ten minutes, and even then would Michigan have their own counter.
In the 72nd minute, Robbie Mertz and Ivo Cerda combined to put an Ohio State man off the ball in the middle of the pitch. Mertz continued forward and made a vital run centrally to make himself available. Once he received the ball from Noah Kleedtke, he moved it along just as quickly with a nice flick on to Osman. Osman’s first hit was nice, but a tough effort to finish for even the most experienced player and saved. Still, Osman was quickest to the ball in the box and pounced with a nice finish for his team-leading (and joint-second in the Big Ten) fifth goal. Mertz will not get an assist credit, but his defensive work and final pass were both key in setting Osman up.
Henry Mashburn would get thrown into action in the 80th minute and need to make a nice save diving to his left to make a save, and just two minutes later Michigan would yet again respond to an Ohio State chance with a goal. Osman’s touch pass from the wing to Hallahan in a more central position let Jack have a nice touch to put the ball on his right foot and bend it into the net. It was stupendous from the Englishman who chipped a goal onto his earlier assist.
Ohio State snagged a goal back through big midfielder Michael Prosuk, but it was far too little, far too late. Michigan would take all three points.
The biggest question before the match was how would Michigan cope with no Marcello Borges or Mohammed Zakyi in the line-up. The answer: they’d be alright for the night. It is great for Michigan’s depth prospects that Noah Kleedtke and Peter Brown can both step in and do a job. Tangentially related is Austin Swiech’s performance on the evening as he silenced Ohio State’s sophomore forward Josh Jackson-Ketchup, marking the second match in a row he shut down a key attacking threat (Ethan Beckford of Penn State being the prior player) and this was done tonight from an unfavored left back position. Swiech has been the picture of consistency for Michigan this season, and tonight was no exception.
The entire defense was massive this evening and Daniel Mukuna’s goal was a treat for a player who’s been rock solid this season. Seemingly any time the Buckeyes had a chance to send a cross or shot in, Mukuna was in perfect position to play the ball away safely. Jackson Ragen was immense too and the 6’5” sophomore clearly has Chaka Daley’s trust. Finally, we need to mention just how solid Henry Mashburn has been in net whenever called upon. A nice diving save in the 80th is the next in a running installment of nice saves from the sophomore keeper. With three sophomores playing at the best level they ever have in maize and blue, the future is bright for the Wolverines.
This was also a night dominated by some of the most skillful players in maize and blue. Umar Farouk Osman and Jack Hallahan both had a goal and assist each as the two wingers put on a show. Hallahan’s left foot is what he’s known for, but it was the right with which he scored his goal. Osman, meanwhile, has gone from only missing finishing in his game to having five goals, most off outstanding finishes (including tonight’s). With Zakyi, they are a well-oiled machine, but more credit to Kleedtke for filling in well on the evening with high intensity to match the firepower of his attack-mates.
It’s another three points for Michigan, who venture back on the road Saturday (the 29th) to Illinois to take on Northwestern. The game will start at 8 PM, immediately after Michigan’s football ball against the Wildcats. Following that, Michigan returns to the state of Michigan, but ventures to Rochester to take on Oakland on October 3rd at 7 PM.