Take-Aways

 

We, like most of you, are unable to travel to U of M's away games. Unfortunately this means our in-game and post-game coverage is limited. To counteract this, we have started a new section on this blog -  "Take-Aways" - where we discuss the highs, lows and ramifications of all the Wolverines remaining away matches.

Enjoy!


Friday, November 10th: University of Michigan vs University of Wisconsin

Francis Atuahene (10) against Wisconsin earlier this season. The Wolverines won that match up, 2-1. 

Francis Atuahene (10) against Wisconsin earlier this season. The Wolverines won that match up, 2-1. 

Written by: Michael Kroodsma

1.) Tourney Trouble - U of M lost 4-0 against Wisconsin in the Big Ten Tournament. If it feels like a misleading score line, that’s because it is a misleading score line. As the match wore on, and Michigan looked to claw their way back into the game, Wisconsin took advantage of openings in the Wolverine defense, and stretched a 1-0 lead into a 4-0 lead in the blink of an eye. It hurts to see the Wolverines bow out of the tournament in this manner. As some small amount of consolation (depending on how you look at it), Wisconsin went on to win the Big Ten Tournament, defeating Indiana after penalty kicks. 

2.) College Cup Comes To Ann Arbor - Now on to the good news. U of M are in the 2017 NCAA College Cup - and it gets better! As the 13th overall seed, Michigan earned a first round bye, and the privilege of hosting the winner of Colgate versus University of Massachusetts (to be played on Wednesday, November 15th) at UMSS on Sunday, November 19th, @ 5:00pm. We cannot wait! Is it Sunday yet? 

3.) What lies ahead ? - Of course, the first step is winning the first match. Coach Chaka Daley will have his men fully prepared for the task at hand. But let’s play the hypothetical game, shall we? Hypothetically if U of M defeat their opponent in the second round, the Wolverines could  face San Francisco, California or 4th Ranked Louisville in the 3rd round of the College Cup. After that, it’s near-impossible to say who the Wolverines could take on. Still, the first step for the Maize and Blue is winning on the 19th. All of us at MSN are confident that Michigan, still smarting from a big loss to Wisconsin, will be itching to show everyone just how dangerous they can be. Go Blue!


Sunday, October 29th: University of Michigan at University of Maryland

Abdou Samake (left) celebrates with the goal scorers - Daniel Mukuna (center) and Francis Atuahene (right) Photo courtesy of: University of Michigan Men's Soccer (@umichsoccer)

Abdou Samake (left) celebrates with the goal scorers - Daniel Mukuna (center) and Francis Atuahene (right)

Photo courtesy of: University of Michigan Men's Soccer (@umichsoccer)

Written by: Michael Kroodsma

1.) B1G Ten Conference Champions - The University of Michigan Men's Soccer Team earned their first conference title in school history Sunday.

Let that sink in.

The match was hugely important for the Wolverines. As we predicted here on Take-Aways just a few short weeks ago, the final match of the regular season played an important role in Michigan’s post-season life. Now the #1 seed in the B1G Ten tournament, U of M are a shoe-in for a national tournament bid. We at MSN couldn’t be more excited about it. GO BLUE! 

2.) #MichiganMuscle - Daniel Mukuna was exceptional in this match. To start, it was Danny’s header from a corner that gave Michigan the lead just 6 minutes in. For the rest of the match, he was flawless. Every time the door opened for Maryland, it seemed like Mukuna was there to slam it closed in their face (a one-on-one late in the match jumps to mind, with Danny picking the Maryland striker's pocket as cleanly as possible.) An incredibly solid performance all around. 

3.) Chaka’s boys - The team that Coach Chaka Daley has put together is something special. This was evidenced in the lineup throughout the match on Sunday.

 Tactically, the match was superbly managed. With 3 matches over a span of 8 days, Coach Daley had to look to his bench and utilize his depth to keep everyone fresh. Maryland looked to play this game at a extremely high tempo, but Coach Daley stifled the hosts, slowed the game down, and looked to build Michigan into the game. It worked to perfection. This was a masterclass from the boss. 

4.) What does it all mean? - Michigan will host either Northwestern (1-7-0) or Rutgers (0-8-0) on Sunday, November 5th at UMSS. The side will be flying high following this win over one of the best sides in the nation. With a statement win on the road today and rabid home support awaiting them in Ann Arbor, U of M will be shooting for the stars. National Tournament, here we come! 


Saturday, October 21st: University of Michigan at Ohio State University

Jack Hallahan (11) is first in assists (6) and second in goals scored (5) for the Wolverines this season 

Jack Hallahan (11) is first in assists (6) and second in goals scored (5) for the Wolverines this season 

Written by: Michael Kroodsma

1. Quarterfinals - Michigan's 2-0 victory over Ohio State on Saturday was important for several reasons, namely that U of M will now get to play their Big Ten Tournament Quarterfinal match at home. Road matches against ranked opposition have proved difficult to say the least for the Wolverines. Everyone involved with the program will be thankful for home field advantage to kick off the 2017 post-season. 

2. Road Rivalry - A rivalry match is always important, even when it's outcome doesn't directly determine your season. U of M and Ohio State are enemies in every sport, soccer definitely included. We marked this match in our last edition of Take-Aways as make or break encounter and the Wolverines didn't disappoint. Winning 2-0 against any conference opponent feels good, but winning 2-0 against this conference opponent feels even better. 

3. Strength in numbers? - Against Ohio State, Coach Chaka Daley utilized his 11th - no that's not a typo - lineup variation this season. While some may consider this to be a good thing, citing the teams depth as indicative of its overall strength, we at MSN remain unconvinced. With several injuries to key figures limiting the amount of full-strength football we've seen from the Wolverines this season, we have to ask ourselves - just how good can they be? We've seen flashes of brilliance and dominance, but we're yet to see a complete performance against strong opposition. At this stage of the season, Coach Daley's 11th different line-up feels more problematic than promising. We hope we see a strong line-up soon - Michigan take on Detroit midweek before heading to Maryland to take on the Terrapins (one of the best teams in the county) on Sunday. 

4. Jack and Mo - We call him #MoGoals for a reason. Mohammed Zakyi leads U of M in goal scoring this year with 6 goals (and counting). Meanwhile, Jack Hallahan has been a man on a mission, with 6 assists so far. Did we mention who the people in second place are on the goal scoring and assists lists? You guessed it - it's Jack (5 goals) and Mo (4 assists). These two have had excellent seasons and are clearly the focal points of the Maize and Blue attack. At 9-4-2 overall and 5-1-1 in conference play, Michigan are poised to have a strong finish as they head into the Big Ten (and hopefully National) tournament(s). Expect Jack and Mo to remain the driving forces for the Wolverines down the stretch. 


Tuesday, October 10th: University of Michigan at Notre Dame

More #MertzMagic - Robbie Mertz (14) scored the lone goal for the Wolverines in South Bend Tuesday Night

More #MertzMagic - Robbie Mertz (14) scored the lone goal for the Wolverines in South Bend Tuesday Night

Written by: Michael Kroodsma

1. Fear not - Michigan's loss on Tuesday evening is not cause for panic. Notre Dame is currently ranked 5th in the nation in the latest NCAA Men's Soccer RPI rankings. Michigan sits in 21st. Conceding two goals in the final 10 minutes of Tuesday's match doesn't mean U of M were outclassed in any sense. Despite the loss, the Wolverines are continuing to show that they can compete against the best of the best, even on the road. 

2. More #MertzMagic - Robbie Mertz was able to equalize for Michigan just 10 minutes after the visitors conceded on Tuesday. It certainly seems like Mertz has a knack for scoring when it matters on the road. The Maize and Blue couldn't close this one out, but Mertz has been a force this season. He sits in 5th in team goal scoring and 3rd in assists, and continues to provide Coach Chaka Daley stability and creativity in the middle of the field. There's a reason he's a team captain. 

3. For the record - Michigan's Big Ten record remains unchanged, of course, but this result may damage U of M's chances of making the National Tournament at the end of the season. The Wolverines have a tendency of falling to the stronger sides they've faced this year, and with a loss to a 'weaker' Oakland side, Michigan will need to make a statement in the final 4 matches of the season. Wins over Ohio State and Maryland would give them a real shot at earning a place. Losses in one or both encounters may see the Wolverines miss out. 

4. Ragen's Red - Michigan Defender Jackson Ragen was issued a straight red card Tuesday night, the ramifications of which mean he will miss the next match, at home against Omaha on Saturday. It's certainly not ideal, and we wonder who Coach Daley (who remains with out first choice left-back Marcello Borges and first choice center-back Daniel Mukuna) will place in his stead. Perhaps we'll see Marc Ybarra play in central defense alongside Abdou Samake. This is a short-term problem, thankfully, as Jackson will be eligible to return to the line-up in time for the match against Ohio State next week. 


Sunday, October 1st: University of Michigan at Penn State

Ybarra (23), Osman (7) and Zakyi (9)

Ybarra (23), Osman (7) and Zakyi (9)

Written by: Michael Kroodsma

1. Mo Goals, Please - Mohammed Zakyi seems to be the most consistent threat for the Maize and Blue. In 4 starts this season, Mo has hit the back of the net on 3 occasions. A good return for a Freshman so far this season. Mo connected on Marc Ybarra's free kick last Wednesday and his header in the 71st minute helped Michigan force overtime Sunday. Could he be the striker this Michigan team is craving? 

2. Hallahan Wins It - We said it in the Weekend Preview - Michigan needed to find goals. Jack has 4 of them now on the season and none so far have come at a better time. With 35 seconds left in the second overtime period, up pops Jack to smack the ball off the underside of the crossbar and in, earning a difficult away win. The U of M side of years passed would have folded and maybe even lost that match, but not these boys. If Hallahan continues to be the difference maker, we still feel that this team can go toe-to-toe with anyone in the nation. 

3. Tiki-Chaka - We were critical of the 'possession without purpose' in our Weekend Review. Perhaps Head Coach Chaka Daley took note. The Wolverines dominated the match and turned their supremacy in possession into offensive opportunities - taking 24 shots and forcing 9 saves out of Penn State's keeper. Despite the poor shots on target percentage (37.5%), Michigan manhandled the hosts for the majority of the afternoon. Possession with purpose equals good things for this Michigan team. We know consistency in front of goal is a problem, but U of M got the job done Sunday. 

4. Here or There - U of M have 6 remaining matches - 3 at home and 3 away. Earning a late double overtime victory over a compact Penn State side on the road will be a huge boost heading into the final stretch of the season. With the Maryland match still to consider, the Wolverines will need to be firing on all cylinders as the Terrapins provide the stiffest competition left for U of M. That said, it's important that Michigan stay focused. We've seen on several occasions already this season what losing focus does to this U of M side.