By JERAMY STOVER, Staff Reporter
The University of Michigan-Dearborn men’s soccer team traveled to its farthest road game of the year Friday night in hopes of celebrating a win on the bus ride home. The Wolverines made the 289 mile trip to Olivet Nazarene University, where they fell 3-0 to the host Tigers.
“(We) held them off well for a team that was the caliber they were,” said head coach Matt Quirk.
The loss puts UM-Dearborn at 0-2 so far on the year as the Wolverines have yet to play a conference game. Quirk liked how his team did against a stout opponent early in the season.
“We played excellently, we finally came together,” he said.
It was not a matter of effort that kept the Wolverines from getting the win, but a matter ball possession and shots. The Ill.-based Olivet Nazarene was able to get nine shots on goal and maintained possession for the majority of the game.
Quirk noted that not having all of his starters put the team at a disadvantage for the game.
“We still have a couple of starters who aren’t ready to play yet; when we get them back we’ll be firing on all cylinders.”
Of the guys who did play, Quirk spoke about the superb play of Mario Konja, Nate Szymkowicz, Iris Mesic and freshman Richard Hodnicki. UM-Dearborn managed to get two shots on goal, one from the foot of Konja, who ripped a shot off the cross bar from 20 yards out in the first half. That shot would have tied the game at 1-1 as Olivet Nazarene got out to an early lead from a penalty kick goal scored by Paddy Hoepp in the fifth minute of the game.
“They were good, best team we’ve seen so far, they were better than last year,” added Quirk.
The Wolverines kept the game close going into halftime but were not able to spark a comeback. Olivet Nazarene notched two more goals in the second half at the 47th and 72nd minute.
Senior forward Iris Mesic also made note of the Tigers ball possession.
“They kept the ball a lot and showed why they are a ranked team,” Mesic said.
Mesic also spoke about the play of starting goalkeeper Andrew Pietrzak. Pietrzak made six saves on the night.
“He did pretty good the goals we gave up he couldn’t do much about,” Mesic said.
Quirk noted that Pietrzak’s distribution was excellent stating that this was the “best distribution we’ve seen from him this far, (he) looked very intelligent tonight.”
With the team starting to come together on the field, Quirk stated he’d like to see his players gain more confidence when moving the ball around.
“We need confidence to have the ball and keep it and be calm on it; (we) need to get comfortable with short passing,” he said.
The Wolverines’ next game is September 8, when they face off against Rochester College in Pontiac, Mich.