After successfully earning a spot in the 2016 MASC Regional Tournament elimination round, the Wolverines entered their second day of competition to play against Loyola University of Chicago in one of the semi-final matchups.
Building on the momentum of a resounding victory the night before against Northwestern University, Michigan looked to attack quickly and establish an important early lead in this grueling competition. It was not until the 26th minute; however, that freshman midfielder, Daniel Kim, hit a 35 yard blast into the very top left corner of the Ramblers goal to put the Wolverines up 1-0. As half-time approached, it appeared that Michigan was going to enter the break with an important lead, but Loyola was able to equalize at the very last minute to send both teams to their benches tied at one. Second-half play was exciting. Both the Ramblers and the Wolverines battled for a go-ahead goal and the opportunity to move on to the finals. With only five minutes left to play in the game, it was Daniel Kim again who made a play leading to a goal for the Wolverines when he connected with senior forward, David Farber, who went in one-on-one with the Loyola goalkeeper and beat him to put Michigan ahead and send the Wolverines to their second MASC Regional Tournament final in as many years.
It was the Buckeyes from Columbus that Michigan met in the finals. Having played three matches in 24 hours both teams' players and benches were visibly tired and sore going into the competition. Rallying on pride and the hopes of repeating their 2015 championship success, the Wolverines jumped out to an early lead when David Farber redirected a crossed ball from Hunter Mejaly to put Michigan up 1-0 in only the 8th minute. The remainder of the game saw players bow out of the competition due to exhaustion and teams look deep into their rosters for players to step up and win the title. The final whistle drew nearer and in a desperate last-minute attempt, the Buckeyes flighted a ball into the Michigan box which bobbled loose to a free attacker who equalized the match with only seconds remaining in regulation time. With their lead erased in heart-breaking fashion, the Wolverines prepared for golden-goal overtime play and a dramatic finish to the finals. Unfortunately, it was the Buckeyes who capitalized on another loose ball in the Michigan box and scored the game-winning goal given them the victory for the day and the 2016 MASC title.
Nevertheless, Michigan's performance over the entire season places them in 3rd place in the Midwest region according to the Power Ranking system (http://midwestalliancesoccer.com/power_rankings). With that ranking, the Wolverines qualify for the NIRSA National Tournament on November 17-19, 2016 in Foley, AL and await their competition schedule. Several exhibition matches are tentatively scheduled for Michigan's national tournament preparation, stay tuned for updates from the Wolverines by following us on Facebook.
Having visited the state of Indiana several times in their regular season, the Wolverines took to the road for one last trip to the Hoosier state to compete in the 2016 MASC Regional Championship Tournament (October 22-23).
Drawing the same opponents from last year's group stage (University of Wisconsin at Madison and Northwestern University), Michigan faced two familiar and formidable foes Saturday afternoon.
First up were the Badgers of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, who were, like the Wolverines, looking to defend their 2015 MASC co-champion title. Evenly matched throughout, the game saw both teams create and miss quality chances on goal. It wasn't until halfway through the second half that a Badgers freekick lead to chaos in front of the Michigan goal, forcing Graham Keep to make a save among a crowd of players at the very edge of the Michigan goal line. Unfortunately, the refereeing crew believed the whole ball to have crossed the goal line and awarded the Badgers the goal and the lead. Michigan fought back to try and earn an equalizing goal of their own, but the final whistle was blown and Wisconsin ran away with an important win, leaving Michigan in a must-win situation in their next match.
Only two hours later, Michigan began their warm-up for their winner-goes-through match against the 10-0-0 Northwestern University Wildcats. After an inspiring pre-match speech, Michigan came out determined to convincingly win the match and hand the Wildcats their first loss of the season. And it could not have played out much better because only 90 seconds into the match, Michigan junior midfielder, Hunter Mejaly, ran onto a loose ball at the top of the Northwestern box and fired it into the bottom left corner to give the Wolverines the early lead. Both teams then continued to fight for the last spot from Group C in the next day's semi-finals. As the final whistle approached, Michigan looked to solidify their lead and dash any hopes of a late Wildcat comeback. With just ten minutes left, junior midfielder, Marco Schiebert, sprinted towards the Northwestern backline and slid to tap a ball just beyond the defenders and into the path of senior forward, David Farber, who finished and gave Michigan a 2-0 lead. Not quite satisfied, the Wolverines took advantage of a poor Wildcat corner kick and junior midfielder, Andrew Smutek, went off to the races and made an amazing 90 yard sprint with the ball to go coast-to-coast, beating the last of the Northwestern defenders, only to selflessly find the streaking junior forward, Ty Gilhuly, who improved the Wolverines lead to 3-0.
With the win, the Wolverines earned second place in Group C and a bid in the tournament semi-finals where Michigan will meet Loyola University Chicago (11:00 am). The winner of this match will go on to play the winner of the other semi-final game between Indiana University and Ohio State University. You can follow all match scores at
The final weekend of MASC Central regular season play had the Wolverines taking on two opponents that they have not beaten in four seasons.
First up, in East Lansing, were the Michigan State Spartans. In this much-anticipated match-up between in-state rivals, Michigan looked to secure their bid to the 2016 MASC regional tournament the following week with a win. It was; however, MSU that struck an early blow when, in the 20th minute, the Spartans capitalized on some sloppy Michigan defence. After a half-time talk and a change in strategy, the Wolverines emerged much more confident and organized, leading to an early equalizing goal by Ty Gilhuly in the 48th minute. Just nine minutes later, junior midfielder, Hunter Mejaly, whipped a free kick into the Spartan box, which was redirected into the goal by Ty Gilhuly for his second of the night. Despite several opportunities created by the Spartans, Michigan remained defensively strong and senior goalkeeper, Graham Keep, made several key saves to close out the match and solidify the Michigan 2-1 victory.
Having earned a berth to the MASC regional tournament, Michigan went on the road to Allendale, MI to face-off against the Grand Valley State University Lakers for the final match of the 2016 MASC regular season. After 90 minutes of entertaining back-and-forth soccer, the Lakers and Wolverines ended in a draw (0-0) for the fourth consecutive year.
Sunday also concluded the fourth regular season for this year's senior class. This class can only be described as stellar: recording some of the most impressive regular season statistics possible. Over four MASC Central regular seasons, the Class of 2016 has never lost at home. In fact, the Class of 2016 lost only 1 time in 40 regular season matches. Moreover, this class boasts 3 undefeated regular seasons, winning the Central division once (2013) and being runners-up twice (2015 and 2016).
Michigan now look forward to a challenging campaign next weekend in Westfield, IN when they will defend their MASC regional tournament title. Seeded in Group C, the Wolverines meet the same opponents from last year's group stage: Northwestern University and University of Wisconsin-Madison. For full tournament details and scores, be sure to visit our Schedule/Results page.
With a small travel roster, the Wolverines rolled into Indianapolis for their only game this week in a must-win match against the Butler University Bulldogs.
After a great warm-up and a with determined roster, the Wolverines set the tone early when, just two minutes in, junior midfielder, Hunter Mejaly, put Michigan on the board. Without taking their foot off the pedal, Michigan struck again only five minutes later when Andrew Smutek placed the ball past the Butler goalkeeper for the Wolverine's second of the day and Andrew's second in as many games. From there, Michigan began to knock the ball around the pitch and kept a majority of the possession through the first half. With only a two goal lead, Wolverines coach, Alex Lubyansky, rallied the players at half and challenged them to secure the win by creating more chances on goal and securing the Michigan back line. Indeed, that is just what the players did. The second half saw two more goals scored by the Maize and Blue: one, by Hunter Mejaly (65'), his second of the day, and the other by junior midfielder, Jay Kim (79'). Michigan's defence played another solid game, allowing very few quality opportunities on goal and even providing some threatening attacking moments, especially by Connor Pollock who had three attacking headers from crossed balls but was denied on every attempt by the Bulldog defence.
The 4-0 victory improves Michigan's record to 6-0-2 and their hold on to second place in the MASC Central division.
With the race for the three central division bids to the MASC conference tournament still up for grabs, Michigan enters next weekend's final days of their regular season in must win situations in order to secure their spot in the tournament in which they are defending champions. On Friday, October 14, the Wolverines travel to East Lansing, MI to battle the Michigan State University Spartans, followed by what will be an exciting regular season conclusion in Allendale, MI when Michigan looks to spoil senior day for Grand Valley State University (Sunday, October 16).
This past weekend Michigan began their 5-game final stretch of the MASC Central regular season with two matches against very tough opponents.
First up was a trip to Kalamazoo, MI for an evening meeting against the Western Michigan Broncos. Having scored in the first 14 minutes of every previous game, Michigan sought to open an early lead against the Broncos and did just that when senior midfielder and team captain, PJ DiNardo, finished an opportunity in the WMU box to put the Wolverines up 1-0 in just the 11th minute. The game that then ensued can only be described as a shoot-out. Just three minutes after Michigan had taken the lead, the Broncos equalized with a set-piece. Four minutes after that, Jack Eisentrout redirected a perfectly executed free kick to put the Wolverines back ahead. The Wolverines and Broncos went blow-for-blow for the rest of the game, with one more goal being scored for Michigan by senior forward, David Farber, and Western Michigan equalizing shortly after every time Michigan took the lead. The game ended in a very tough-fought 3-3 tie.
36 hours after a tough battle in Kalamazoo, the Wolverines hit the road for a long drive to West Lafayette, IN to face the only other unbeaten team in the MASC Central, Purdue University. On a pitch that favored the direct style of the Boilermakers, Michigan had another difficult match-up ahead of them. With an undefeated season on the line for one team, Michigan looked to hand the Boilermakers their first loss and continue their all-time unbeaten streak against Purdue. For the first time this season, Michigan was unable to find the back of the opponent's goal in the first 15 minutes of play. After a physical and well-fought first half by both clubs, it was not until the 68th minute when Andrew Smutek finished a brilliant tic-tac-toe play from the feet of Austin Harms and Ty Gilhuly. Shortly after, Michigan conceded a very questionable and unlucky call in their own box, which Purdue capitalized on to tie the game. But only one minute later it was Andrew Smutek again, who drew a penalty kick of his own, which Danny Kim fired into the bottom right corner to put the Wolverines back ahead. On a day where anything seemed to be possible, Purdue was awarded yet another questionable penalty kick with only moments left in the match. But as he has done so many times before, senior goalkeeper, Graham Keep, made an incredible save on the initial shot and a second save on the attempt made on the rebound. The final moments seemed to take hours and both teams fought to maintain their unblemished records. Ultimately; however, the Michigan defence (David Mintz, Ryan McDougald, Connor Pollock, Brett Wietecha, and Jack Eisentrout) stood strong and denied multiple last-minute attempts on the Michigan keeper. Not to be left out, the Michigan midfield (Hunter Mejaly, Cina Vazir, and PJ DiNardo) seemed to find another gear against the Boilermakers, covering more ground than any other game this season in their attempts to support both the defence and attack. In summary, Sunday's match was a complete team effort and a great win for the Wolverines, improving their record to 5-0-2 and making them the only unbeaten team left in the MASC Central division.
Next up, Michigan continues their away campaign against the Butler University Bulldogs in Indianapolis, IN on Sunday, October 9.