By JERAMY STOVER, Staff Reporter
It is now or never for the University of Michigan-Dearborn men’s soccer team. With just one week left and a pair of games remaining in the regular season, the Wolverines are out of the playoff picture.
They lost a pair of Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference games last week. On Wednesday Oct. 22 they lost to Madonna University. On Saturday Oct. 25, they were defeated by University of Northwestern Ohio 4-1. On Wednesday the Wolverines made the short trip to Madonna University where they fell victim to the Crusaders 5-0.
Madonna came out of the opening bell swinging away and connected on all punches. Amadou Cisse started the scoring off in the eighth minute when he received a short cross pass in the middle of the field and he beat the Wolverines goalkeeper to the right side.
The scoring halted there, but only for a short time. Cisse would find the back of the net again, this time in the 21st minute.
The Crusaders would score two more goals in the next two minutes growing their lead to a commanding 4-0.
That lead would hold to halftime when UM-Dearborn head coach Matt Quirk decided to replace goalkeeper Andrew Pietrzak with Erick Beas. Beas has only played in one half the entire season.
In the 66th minute Cisse would earn his first career hat trick by beating Beas. Ryan Williams recorded one goal and three assists on the day.
Madonna scored on half of their shots on goal as they beat the Wolverines in the category 10-1. The lone shot on goal for UM-Dearborn came from freshman Richard Hodnicki.
Quirk said that “careless turnovers” was the achilles heel to a disastrous first half.
One reason for a lack of offense for the Wolverines was the absence of leading scorer Iris Mesic, who is still dealing with an injury.
Quirk explained that with Mesic out, the rest of the team needs to work harder in the offensive end.
“When he’s not there we need to do some work to create goal scoring chances,” Quirk said.
Mesic is looking to return next week when the Wolverines will play their final two regular season games. It is possible they will need to win both games in order to make the conference playoffs. Mesic is ready to take on the pressure to win.
“I just can’t wait to play a full game again and I enjoy games when there is tremendous amount of pressure on us to win especially to make the playoffs,” Mesic said.
On Saturday the Wolverines fell short in another WHAC matchup, this time to the University of Northwestern Ohio 4-1.
The Racers (12-2-1, 8-0) opened the scoring in the 17th minute when Michael Gonzalo found the back of the net. Just 10 minutes later Gonzalo scored another goal to make it 2-0.
UNWO added one more goal in the 37th minute to take a comfortable 3-0 lead into half time over the Wolverines (1-11-1, 1-6-1).
UNWO would add their last goal of the game in the 49th minute when Jozo Todic scored his third goal of the year.
The Wolverines received some luck when Iris Mesic sent a cross towards the goal and it hit off a Racers defender’s head and found its way into the net in the 74th minute.
Mesic, scoring his fourth goal of the season said the game reminded him of Wednesday. “Like last game we struggled first half but picked it up in the second half,” he said.
Quirk said his team didn’t perform too bad considering their opponent. “Isn’t bad considering how high this team is ranked in the nation.” he said.
The Racers, who are ranked No. 16 in the nation, remain undefeated in conference play with the win but will get a serious test next Wednesday when they travel to No. 4 ranked Davenport.
Like his senior leading scorer Mesic, Quirk thought the second half was a lot more even than the first. “We just played a lot better, moved the ball better,” he said.
With two games left in the season against winnable opponents, Quirk is still “100 percent” confident in his team to make the playoffs. UM-Dearborn goes into the last week of the season three points behind the eighth place team Cornerstone who lost to Marygrove Saturday night in double overtime.
The Wolverines have two final WHAC games next week. On Wednesday Oct. 29, they battle Lawrence Tech. On Saturday Nov. 1, they take on Concordia.