By Jeramy Stover, Staff Reporter
With their season approaching its end, the University of Michigan-Dearborn men’s soccer team had two important conference games this past week. The Wolverines drew a 1-1 tie from Siena Heights on Wednesday and were defeated by Cornerstone University, 3-0, on Saturday.
The Wolverines were on the verge of earning their second win on Wednesday, Oct. 15. UM-Dearborn (1-8-1, 1-3-1) traveled to Siena Heights (2-11-1, 1-4-1) to take on the Saints in a battle with playoff implications as both teams are trying to earn a playoff berth.
The two teams played an even first half with shots on goal leaning in the Wolverines way 4-2. The only shot to cross the goal line came off the foot of UM-Dearborn’s, Richard Hodnicki who fired a shot past the Saints goalkeeper from 19 yards out in the 43rd minute. Nate Szymkowicz delivered the pass to Hodnicki and recorded an assist on the play.
Head Coach, Matt Quirk has noticed that Szymkowicz has helped sparked the offense since moving to the inside on defense.
“It really helps a lot… he can get forward a lot, (he’s) a really strong attacker,” Quirk said.
The Wolverines were five minutes away from win number two when Saints Midfielder, Kaysey Collins got a rebound and put the ball in the back of the net.
Siena Heights outshot the Wolverines 18-6 in the second half. They only managed to put two on net but only one needed to go in.
The two teams would head to overtime where the stalemate continued to a 1-1 tie. The Wolverines would get the only shot on goal in both overtimes. The final in shots on goal were a 6-4 advantage for Siena Heights.
Quirk explained how much the tie hurt after leading for most of the game.
“It was deflating, they all wanted to win really badly,” he said.
Andrew Pietrzak started in net for UM-Dearborn and impressed everyone including Quirk.
“Andrew was really good; good communication, good kicking, good throws,” Quirk said.
Brody Hall described the overtime as “tense” and has noticed better play out of his team in the past week.
“We’ve definitely gotten into the season and are starting to put together some alright performances,” Hall said.
With the Wolverines offense starting to find its stride, Quirk has also noticed improvement in his team’s play.
“We definitely have been playing better, getting results, scoring goals, and finally coming together,” Quirk said.
On Saturday afternoon UM-Dearborn faced off against Cornerstone University in a matchup that was critical to both teams as they are both on the outside of the playoff picture with just a handful of games remaining.
Cornerstone (4-9-1, 2-4-1) made a giant leap into the playoff picture as they defeated UM-Dearborn (1-9-1, 1-4-1) 3-0.
Cornerstone freshman, Caleb Colp scored two goals in the first ten minutes to put his team ahead. The Golden Eagles were looking to snap their four game losing streak as they took the 2-0 lead into halftime.
The tide would not turn in the second half as Cornerstone would add one more goal to the stat sheet when Josh Piovesan scored in the 66th minute.
Junior Defensemen, Chris Porreca was noted as having a good game by Quirk.
“(He’s) leading the team by example, one of our loudest guys on the field, which is critical,” Quirk said.
A lack of offensive pressure and shots was a main reason for the Wolverines getting shut out. Cornerstone had the advantage in shots on goal 8-3.
A big reason for the offensive sputter for UM-Dearborn was the injury to Iris Mesic. Mesic, the team leader in goals was limited to a substitution role and even then wasn’t 100 percent.
Quirk said Mesic will most likely play next week but possibly a limited amount.
With just four games remaining in the season, the Wolverines need to collect as many points as possible to try and sneak into the playoffs. The veteran Leader, Mesic knows what the team needs to improve on in order to make it happen.
“Limit our mistakes and make the most of our chances,” he said.
The loss drops the Wolverines into a tie with Siena Heights for tenth in the conference, while the Golden Eagles flew up the standings to fifth as they are tied with Aquinas with seven points.
Next for UM-Dearborn is a pair of road conference games as it faces Madonna on Oct. 22 and University of Northwestern Ohio on Oct. 25.