By JERAMY STOVER, Staff Reporter
The University of Michigan-Dearborn men’s soccer team lost its conference opener to Davenport University on Saturday night 5-0. Davenport (8-1, 1-0 WHAC) came into the game ranked No. 3 in the NAIA national rankings, while UM-Dearborn (0-6, 0-1) was still seeking its first win.
It was a quiet start to the game for both teams until Davenport’s, Tyler Fischer, scored in the 13th minute. In the 16th minute, Lito Esquivel scored off a cross pass from Kevin LaCroix to make it 2-0. The score would hold for the rest of the half.
UM-Dearborn kept the game close going into halftime, narrowly trailing Davenport in shots on goal, 5-4. The Wolverines’ defense was a key component in keeping the Panthers off the board.
At halftime, UM-Dearborn Head Coach, Matt Quirk, knew he had to make some adjustments to try and spark his offense.
“At halftime we decided we needed to press more to score,” he said.
Freshman, Richard Hodnicki, helped lead the offense with a shot on goal and used his speed to burst past defenders.
“He definitely made us more dangerous and him being able to run at the defense generated most of our opportunities,” said Brody Hall.
Davenport would come out of the locker room firing on all cylinders. The game would remain 2-0 until the 70th minute when Dzenan Catic found the back of the net. The Panthers would go on to score two more goals before the 73rd minute to take a commanding 5-0 lead.
“We had one really bad spell in the second half,” said Quirk, adding that the bad spell was “just a mental thing.”
Andrew Pietrzak got the start in goal and was very impressive.
“(He played) pretty good he made a lot of good saves,” said senior, Iris Mesic. Quirk also noted Pietrzak as being “excellent.”
The Wolverines’ defense had their hands full with Catic, the nation’s leading goal scorer entering the match with 14 goals.
Evan Behrendt had the task of defending Catic and helped keep him off the score sheet for the first 70 minutes.
“He shut him down and kept his back to the goal for the most part,” said Hall.
Davenport would go on to finish with 12 shots on goal as the Wolverines finished with four.
The Wolverines will look to regroup quickly as they play Marygrove College Oct. 1 in Pontiac, Mich. Quirk said that the team is “nothing but excited for it.”
“Nothing but positivity going into that (game),” Quirk said.