ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The No. 13-seed University of Michigan men’s soccer team advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in nine years, playing to a scoreless draw with Wright State before advancing in penalty kicks, 5-4, on Sunday (Nov. 24) at U-M Soccer Stadium. Freshman Owen Finnerty made the decisive save in the third round, denying Harvey Slade, while junior Marc Ybarra put away the team’s fifth spot kick to send the Wolverines forward.
Michigan will face No. 4-seed Wake Forest next Sunday (Dec. 1) in Winston-Salem, N.C., after the Demon Deacons eliminated Maryland, the defending national champion, by a 3-0 scoreline.
In penalty kicks, each team made their first two attempts until Finnerty’s denial of Slade in the third round. Sophomore Derick Broche made his attempt to give Michigan a 3-2 cushion. Wright State’s Stefan Rokvic and senior Jack Hallahan each made their attempts in round four, and Wright State’s Jackson Dietrich made his in round five to temporarily knot up the score at 4. Needing a make to seal it, Ybarra stepped up and put it past Sundell, sending U-M Soccer Stadium into a frenzy.
Ironically, the penalty-kick shootout was the team’s third in as many NCAA Tournament matches stretching back to last year (11-10 win over Princeton in the first round; 10-11 loss to Notre Dame in the second round). Michigan also went to PKs for the second consecutive Sunday, following a 4-3 defeat to Indiana in last week’s Big Ten Tournament final.
The Wolverines had two chances in the first 15 minutes. In the 13th minute, Ybarra flicked the ball on to Hallahan, who sent a cross into the box. Broche connected, but headed it too high. A minute later off a corner kick, the ball pinged off a Wright State defender to junior Carlos Tellez, but his follow-up attempt went high of the frame.
Wright State answered with a good spell in the attacking third. In the 22nd minute off a corner, the ball spilled out to Harvey Slade, but his left-footed shot from distance was gobbled up by Finnerty. On a free kick outside the box in the 23rd minute, Deri Corfe hit a shot with power, but it went over the crossbar. The teams were scoreless at half.
Both teams had their chances in the second half. In the 56th minute, a Hallahan free kick rebounded out to junior Austin Swiech. He sent it back in for Broche, but his header was saved at the far post. In the 65th minute, junior Joel Harrison headed a ball from the back post into the middle of the box for graduate student Nebojsa Popovic, but his shot was blocked.
In the 76th minute off an Ybarra free kick, Harrison headed it back toward the center. Junior Mohammed Zakyi chested it down, but could not get enough power on his shot, seeing it skim wide of the frame. The last quality chance came in the 89th minute, but Broche’s offering from the far side of the box was saved by Wright State goalkeeper Joel Sundell. Scoreless after 90 minutes, the two teams went to overtime.
Michigan’s best chance came in the 105th minute. Zakyi played a ball on to Broche in the box, and the junior put it into the net, but was flagged offside on the play.
Michigan Bows Out of NCAA Tournament with Defeat at Wake Forest
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — The No. 13-seed and No. 19-ranked University of Michigan men’s soccer team saw its second-half comeback fall short, ending its season with a 3-1 loss to No. 4-seeded and No. 9-ranked Wake Forest in the Sweet 16 on Sunday (Dec. 1) at Spry Stadium. Sophomore Derick Broche scored the team’s lone goal in the 77th minute, while freshman Owen Finnerty made three saves.
It was another great season of progress for Michigan (11-5-6), which won double-digit matches and made their third consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. The Wolverines reached their first Sweet 16 in nine years and also made the Big Ten Tournament final for the second consecutive year. Additionally, the Wolverines matched last year’s season record for fewest goals allowed in a season (18).
» The No. 13-seeded Wolverines made it a one-goal match late, but fell to No. 4-seed Wake Forest, 3-1, in the Sweet 16 on Sunday (Dec. 1) in Winston-Salem, N.C.
» Derick Broche netted the team’s lone goal, while Owen Finnerty made three saves in the first half.
Both teams had chances in the first half, but it was dominated by great goalkeeping. The first great chance of the match came in the ninth minute to the home side, but Finnerty made a diving save to prevent the goal.
The Wolverines had a beautiful opportunity in the 24th minute when senior Jack Hallahan freed graduate student Nebojsa Popovic in behind the defense. With a one-on-one opportunity with Wake Forest goalkeeper Andrew Pannenberg, Popovic tried to tuck it into the lower-left corner, but Pannenberg got a hand on it for the save. Michigan was awarded a free kick just outside the box in the 33rd minute, but the left-footed attempt from Hallahan was scooped up by Pannenberg at the near post.
Wake Forest (15-4-2) nearly went in front before the break, but Finnerty was there again. A deflected cross fell to Bruno Lapa inside the six, but Finnerty, who was moving to his left, stuck his right hand out to make deny the goal. The teams were scoreless at the interval.
The Wolverines had the first chance of the second half. In the 48th minute, junior Umar Farouk Osman squeezed the ball through the Wake Forest back line to junior Mohammed Zakyi, but his near-post shot was stopped by Pannenberg. Two minutes later, Wake Forest scored, going up, 1-0, on a header goal from Kyle Holcomb at the back post.
Michigan had a golden chance to level the match in the 68th minute. Freshman Christian Pulselli played a great through ball behind the defense to Broche, who was in on Pannenberg, but he pushed his attempt wide of the net. The Demon Deacons extended their lead to 2-0 on a penalty kick from Lapa in the 70th minute.
The Wolverines made it a one-goal match late thanks to Broche. Off a corner kick, Wake Forest attempted to clear the box but got only as far as Popovic, who rifled a shot that took a deflection at the goal line. It spilled to Broche, who cleaned it up to make the score 2-1.
Wake Forest answered right back, though, as Holcomb netted his second at the near post in the 83rd minute to cap the scoring at 3-1.