The Michigan Wolverines Men’s Soccer team became Big Ten regular season champions for the first time following a big win over the Maryland Terrapins on Sunday at Ludwig Field in Maryland. The Wolverines will now enter the Big Ten Tournament as the #1 seed.
Win over Maryland
Michigan’s game against Maryland was huge. It was simple, whoever won the match would become Big Ten regular-season champions. However, if the teams drew, there would be a three-way draw between Michigan, Maryland, and Indiana. Following the opening 90 minutes, it looked as if the three-way share between the schools was a possibility.
The opening 90 minutes ended in a 1-1 draw. The Wolverine’s started the game hot with a goal early on. Daniel Mukuna opened the scoring in the sixth minute when he rose highest on a Marc Ybarra corner kick and headed the ball home. Despite Michigan pouring on the dominance, they couldn’t grab a second goal and it was only a matter of time before Maryland equalized.
That equalizer came in the 35th minute as a Gordon Wild cross fell to the feet of DJ Reeves who slotted the ball to the keepers left and ran off in celebration. The teams went into halftime tied at 1. After a scoreless second half, the game was still tied heading into overtime. Following the first ten-minute period of overtime, the two clubs went into a final ten-minute period. If no goal was scored, the two clubs, along with Indiana would be crowned champions. That was only if no hero appeared.
In the 104th minute of the match, just six minutes away from the final whistle, Michigan found their hero. Francis Atuahene came up with one of the biggest goals in school history as he tapped in the winner dying moments of the game. Jack Hallahan crossed a ball with his left foot into the box which found its way to the back post where Atuahene knocked in the winner.
Francis Atuahene was in the Right to Dream Academy and ended up playing for The Hotchkiss School prior to arriving at the University of Michigan. This is a very similar path that his freshman teammate Umar Farouk Osman took. The freshman sat down with Vavel USA journalist Jay Stucchio to answer a few questions.
Umar Farouk Osman interview
VAVEL USA: Congratulations on becoming a Big Ten champion. What was it like playing in that game against Maryland? Was it the most important game of your young career so far?
Umar Farouk Osman: It was a great opportunity to get a go against one of the best teams in the nation. It was surely the most important game I’ve been a part of so far and I’m glad I helped the team win the championship.
VAVEL: Awesome. Following the win in Maryland, are you guys feeling like you can beat anybody heading into the Big Ten Tournament?
Umar: Yes, I’m pretty confident with my team. We have a solid group of guys and we’re going to take everything game by game.
VAVEL: You featured in every game for the team this season including 12 starts. Are you happy with how your freshman season has gone up until this point?
Umar: Yes, I’m very happy with my performance so far but I certainly have room for improvement. My teammates, coaches and host parents have really helped my transition from high school to college pretty well.
VAVEL: That’s great. Finally, how far do you think this team can go? Are you and your teammates capable of becoming national champions?
Umar: That’s every college players dream, to become a national champion. I think our team has the necessary qualities like any other team out there. We are going to keep doing what we’ve been doing and see where it takes us.
Michigan will begin their Big Ten Tournament with a game vs the winner of the first-round game between Rutgers and Northwestern. The quarterfinal match featuring Michigan will take place at U-M Soccer Stadium, home of the Wolverines on Sunday, November 5th. The Wolverines will be hoping to follow up their Big Ten regular-season championship with a tournament championship.