It was a beautiful weekend for club soccer and a great opportunity for the Michigan seniors to win one last time at home.
But first, coming off of three home wins and combining for 16 goals, Friday night had the Wolverines face-off against a difficult opponent in Notre Dame on the road. After an energetic warm-up, Michigan kicked-off, kept possession, and found weaknesses the the Fighting Irish flanks early on. It didn't take long for the Wolverines to finally capitalize when freshman midfielder, Danny Kim, found the back of the goal to open the scoreline and net his 5th goal of the season in only four games. Notre Dame responded with a great effort, fighting to catch up in the score and be the first team to put one past the Wolverines this season. Unfortunately, with only fifteen minutes left, the Irish did make the best of an out-of-position Wolverine defence and tied the game 1-1. Despite several last minute attempts, Michigan was not able to regain the lead and left South Bend, IN with a draw.
Sunday afternoon saw the Wolverines back at home for their last home competition of 2016 against Ferris State University. After dropping two points on the road two nights before, Michigan looked to secure the full three points against the Bulldogs and send their seniors off with a perfect home record on the year. Michigan quickly welcomed Ferris State to their home field when junior defender, David Mintz, made an overlapping run down the left flank, received a ball on the run, beat a Bulldog defender, and played the ball across for Austin Harms who redirected the ball into the goal to put the Wolverines up 1-0 in only the third minute. It was only 16 minutes later that Austin Harms, once again, beat the Bulldog keeper when he rifled a shot from 25 yards out with his left foot. The rest of the game went back and forth, with quality chances for both sides, but neither team converting on any, leaving the Wolverines with another win.
With the victory, the Wolverines improve to 4-0-1 on the season and remain undefeated against Ferris State University (9-0-0). Next up, the Wolverines enter a long road campaign beginning with a difficult away match against the Broncos of Western Michigan University on Friday, September 30, followed by a contest against the current co-leaders of the MASC Central Division on Sunday, October 2, when Michigan visits Purdue University.
Sunday was also special for several Wolverines as it was their last time competing at home for the maize and blue. The senior class finished their home campaign much the same way they started it over four years ago: as victors. In their four seasons (with many more games left in their current and final season), this Wolverines senior class put-up an impressive 30-4-12 record, making 2 MASC regional tournaments, winning 1 MASC title, and appearing in 2 NIRSA national tournaments. Perhaps more remarkable was Michigan's record at home during this class' tenure. At home, Michigan went undefeated (14-4-0), conceding only 5 goals and scoring 52 in four seasons. With an expected long road and a deep post-season ahead, the senior class looks to close their careers for Michigan by only adding to these stats and accolades. For now; however, we thank them for their commitment and for representing the block M with the utmost commitment, professionalism, and passion.
PJ DiNardo, Brett Wietecha, and Austin Harms are three of the seven 2016 seniors. Not pictured are: Reid Davison, David Farber, Graham Keep, and Jeff Woolstrum.
This past weekend, the University of Michigan hosted two of its in-state rivals in the team's second weekend of MASC play.
First up was a Friday night match-up against the Chippewas of Central Michigan University. With CMU playing a very conservative and compact game, it took the Wolverines several minutes to find the holes in the CMU backline. Eventually; however, it was sophomore midfielder, Marco Schwiebert, who opened the scoring in the 13th minute. From here, the Wolverines found their stride and put 2 more past the Chippewas goalkeeper before the half-time whistle (Hunter Mejaly, 28' and Ty Gilhuly, 37'). Freshman midfielder, Danny Kim, concluded the scoring with a late goal in the 79th minute to cap Michigan's 4-0 win on the night.
Less than 48 hours later, the Wolverines were back in action at Mitchell Field against neighbouring Eastern Michigan University. Coming off of a win the previous day against CMU, the Eagles came into Sunday's game looking to steal points from the Wolverines and turn their season around. But a good warm-up and a quick start ended any hopes for any EMU success this day. Michigan struck quickly and struck frequently, with 5 different Wolverines combining for 7 total goals against the Eagles (Jacob Kunnath, 14'; Ty Gilhuly, 26'; David Mintz, 27'; Danny Kim, 41,44''; David Farber, 42', 46'). Not to be overlooked, the Michigan backline held firm in what was sometimes a scary contest with several close chances created by EMU. Furthermore, with the shutout, senior goalkeeper, Graham Keep, remains perfect on the season, conceding no goals to Michigan's three opponents thus far.
The weekend's wins improve Michigan's record to 3-0-0 on the season and move the Wolverines up in the MASC Central table, trailing Purdue University, but with 2 games in hand. With wins against CMU and EMU, the Wolverines also keep their unbeaten records against the Chippewas and Eagles. Finally, for three games now, the duo of Ty Gilhuly and Danny Kim have each scored at least once in every competition. Having had difficulty putting the ball in the back of the net in previous seasons, it seems that the Wolverines have found quite the exciting formula for goal-scoring this season with both the returning players and new additions to the roster.
Next up, Michigan hits the road for its first away match as they visit the Fighting Irish of the University of Notre Dame on Friday night in South Bend, IN. The Wolverines then host Ferris State University on Sunday, September 25 at 1pm in Ann Arbor.
Coming off of a historic one-loss season, the Wolverines hosted the Valparaiso University Crusaders in their 2016 season-opener in Ann Arbor.
With 19 returning players, the Wolverines got off to a quick start; keeping a large majority of the possession in the first half and missing several close opportunities on the Valparaiso goal. Finally, after 33 minutes of patient play, it was senior midfielder and University of Michigan captain, PJ DiNardo that opened the scoreline to send the Wolverines one goal up at the half.
The second half began much like the first half, with a composed Michigan maintaining possession of the ball and dictating the pace of play. Opportunities on the Valparaiso goal were much less frequent to begin, but soon, Michigan found their stride and began hammering away at the Valparaiso defense.
Fifteen minutes into the second half, junior midfielder, Hunter Mejaly, made a run in behind the Valparaiso defense to pick up a ball played through and chipped his first goal of 2016 over the Crusader's goalkeeper. In the final 12 minutes of the match, Michigan put away two more goals, which were scored by Ty (Thompson) Gilhuly, Danny Kim, and Cina Vazir-Zader, who, just before the final whistle, curled a freekick up, over, and around a Crusader wall and into the side-netting of the Valparaiso goal.
The 5-0 win against the Crusaders improves Michigan's all-time record against Valparaiso to 5-0-0 and is new head coach Alex Lubyansky's first win at the helm of UMMCS.
Next up, the Wolverines host in-state rivals, Central Michigan University and Eastern Michigan University on Friday, September 16 and Sunday, September, 18, respectively at Mitchell Field.