By GEOFF MEHL, Staff Reporter
University of Michigan-Dearborn men’s soccer goalie Aaron Johnson was awarded the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference’s Defensive Player of the Week after posting back-to-back shutouts against Cleary University and Rochester College.
In his first action of the season vs. Cleary on Sept. 8, Johnson made four saves in the second half to secure a 3-0 win. It was the Wolverines’ first victory of the season.
Though Johnson received the award, he says it was the defense that deserved it.
“I’m always happy to win awards, but I was even more happy with the result from the team,” he said. “Anytime you can win a match convincingly, as well keep a clean sheet, it is even better. I personally feel the award speaks volumes to the defensive unit as a whole.”
UM-Dearborn head coach Matt Quirk explained how Johnson may have started shaky but quickly gained composure.
“As the game went on, we just felt more and more confidence in the guy,” Quirk said. “I’ve seen him play (in) a bunch of training, but this is the first time I’ve got to see him play in a real formal setting.”
On Sept. 12 against Rochester, Johnson started his first full game as a Wolverine and made the most of it. He posted his first shutout at UM-Dearborn in a 5-0 victory. He made four saves and faced four corner kicks in the match.
Quirk described how Johnson is growing as a player and his skill set that has made him successful.
“His voice is a huge asset to his game,” Quirk said. “He is the one moving the chess pieces around. Winning this award has given him a lot of confidence.”
Being the first action Johnson has seen for the Wolverines, these early wins didn’t make him overconfident.
“It’s always nice to win matches, especially early on in the year. That being said, these are preseason games so I try not to read too much into them,” Johnson said. “They are great to work on fitness and refine the details before the regular season starts.”
Going forward, Johnson is putting the team first and individual goals second.
“As a team, we are looking to improve on goal differential as well as keeping a clean sheet,” he said. “I’ve never been a guy to make a lot of goals; I’m just focusing on each game with the same level of intensity as the next.”