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September 16, 2010 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 2010-09-16

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Thursday, September 16, 2010 - 7A

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Thursday, September 16, 2010 - 7A

Blue continues late-game heroics
in close victory over Oakland

'M' finds groove at home

Freshman Saad
keeps up hot streak
on offense with goal
By STEPHEN NESBITT
Daily Sports Writer
In the closing minutes of a con-
test against Oakland on Wednes-
day night,
in a game OAKLAND 1
domi- MICHIGAN 2
nated by
lackluster offense and sloppy play,
the offense of the Michigan men's
soccer team finally found its legs.
Senior forward Justin Meram
ended the evening in dramatic
fashion, burying a shot past a
sprawling goalkeeper with only
a minute remaining on the clock,
giving the Wolverines a 2-1 vic-
tory.
Deadlocked at zero after 70
minutes, Michigan (3-1-1) looked
to its main weapons on the attack
- Meram and freshman forward
Soony Saad.
Saad continued his hot streak on
offense by netting a header at 74:35
to grab a 1-0 lead, giving the fresh-
man his team-high fourth goal of
the season.
The first-year phenom was
quick to credit teamwork on the
play, as well as the assist from
senior midfielder Alex Wood.
"No one (on defense) knew
where I was," Saad said. "I was
kind of trying to hide behind the
last defender. Woody played a
driven ball back and I wanted to
head it down. We did a lot of drills
in practice about heading it down,
and when I headed it down it kind
of kept the keeper surprised and
went over the keeper."
But the Golden Grizzlies booted
the equalizer just four minutes
later, as a defensive breakdown left
Jeff Timm open in front of the net
to meet a crossing pass - and he.
didn't miss his opportunity.
Thirsty for his elusive first goal
of the season, Meram turned his

By STEVEN KELLNER
For the Daily
Following a daunting road trip
that saw the Michigan field hockey
team post only two goals in four
games, the excitement as the Wol-
verines stepped onto Ocker Field
for the first time this season to take
on the James Madison Dukes was
tangible.
It had been a rough start to the
season for the Wolverines, playing
three of the top six ranked teams in
a span of nine days, all on the road.
With high expectations and
senior leadership, Michigan hoped
to compete for a Big Ten Champi-
onship this season, but the team
encountered an obstacle when it
lost to North Carolina, the nations
No. 1 team and defending National
Champion, 3-0. The trip did not
get much better. A 5-1 loss to No. 6
Wake Forest, followed by a 2-1 loss
to Maine and then a 2-0 defeat by
No. 5 Connecticut left the Wolver-
ines searching for answers.
Michigan returned home to face
a pair of non-conference foes, start-
ing with No.14 James Madison.
As soon as the game started, it
seemed like it couldn't end quickly
enough. The Dukes climbed to a
3-0 lead going into the half.
But it was a different Wolverine
squad coming out in the second
half.
Freshman Rachel Mack had a
potentially season-changing sec-
ond-half performance that turned
the tide for Michigan. Three min-
utes and seven seconds into the
second half, Mack seemed to don
the red cape with a large'"S" on it,
scoring on two penalty corners, the
first two goals of her career. Senior
captain Zara Saydjari evened it up
at 3-3 with 22:32 left to play.
"In the first four games, I hit
the post five times, which was very
frustrating ... It just felt really good
to get it in such a tight game as
well," Mack said.
As the game went into overtime,
it was just a matter of momentum
for the Wolverines to take over
the game. A brilliantly designed
corner by Michigan coach Marcia
Pankratz led to an extra pass and

a wide open shot for senior captain
Meredith Way. With that thud in
the back of the net a pile of Michi-
gan players jumped on Way in cel-
ebration.
"They are a strong, strong team
from a strong region ... we did not
want to shy away from a challenge,"
Pankratz said after the JMU game.
On Sunday, Central Michigan
came to Ann Arbor. The Wolverines
wouldn't overlook their opponent
after a 1-0 loss to the Chippewas
last season. This game ended quite
differently though. With two goals
from Vanessa Sekhon the Wolver-
ines captured a 4-0 shutout.
Though the season may have
started a little slow for Michigan,
the team has tallied eight goals in
their last three halves, compared to
just two in the previous nine.
Up next is Albany, a team that
just slipped into the top 20. Pan-
kratz is already looking ahead to
next weekend's battle.
"They are going to be polished
and quick, we will have our hands
full for sure," Pankratz said.
It's all about building experience
for Pankratz and her staff.
"Its good to get the younger
players in the match today, we have
some players that aren't feeling
well right now...a little under the
weather, hopefully we can get our
lineup solid and ready to roll forBig
Tens."
Encouraging signs from the
young Wolverines helped Michi-
gan get through the weekend. The
bright stars of the future includ-
ed freshman Rachel Mack, who
scored three goals, and goalkeeper
Haley Jones, who posted her first
career shutout in her first start as
a freshman. The seniors have also
produced, with captains Zara Sayd-
jari and Meredith Way scoring two
goals over the weekend.
The Wolverines ride a two-game
winning streak into a two-game
home stretch next weekend against
Albany and Quinnipiac. They hope
this can keep the momentum going
as they approach the heart of their
schedule in the next few weeks.
"More goals are just going to
keep coming," said Mack after Sun-
day's victory.

Freshman Soony Saad knocked in a header to give the Wolverines a1-0 lead in their 2-1 win over Oakland on Wednesday.

performance up a notch as the
time wound down to the last few
minutes.
With just 60 ticks left, Meram
received a cross from senior mid-
fielder and team captain Alex
Wood, and he put a bullet through
for the game-winner.
The Wolverines have come to
expect these second-half hero-
ics from their leaders, with six of
seven goals this season coming in
the final 45 minutes, but they cer-
tainly aren't taking that offensive
boost for granted.
For a defense that fended off
attackers all evening long, having
scorers like Meram and Saad take

the ball late in a match prompted a
giant sigh of relief.
"Every time the ball touches
their feet, I just have this instinct,
this sense they're going to score,"
sophomore defender Kofi Opare
said. "Soony is a clinical goal scor-
er, that's why he's here - to score
us goals. Look at his record, its
not going to lie. It says something
about his character and his abili-
ties.
"For Justin ... (it's) his ability,
his skill, his vision to spot team-
mates in tight situations (that)
makes him a great player."
Michigan appeared noticeably
fatigued after recently returning

from a weekend trip to Seattle,
but still found the energy to score
twice in the final 20 minutes.
Despite several carelesspasses and
missed opportunities on offense
earlier in the game, the Wolverines
outshot Oakland 24-7.
Michigan coach Steve Burns
said it's the team's perseverance
that will be vital as the season pro-
gresses.
"The college soccer season is like
the college football season," Burns
said. "It's a season of momentum.
Anytime you get a win, regardless
of how you win, everyone feeds off
that and looks forward to the next
game even more so."

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