Wolverines emerge victorious in two critical WHAC matchups

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Photo//UM-Dearborn Athletics. Junior Vito Serra heads the ball for UM-Dearborn.

The University of Michigan-Dearborn men’s soccer team returned to action this week with two games against Siena Heights University and Concordia University. The team had lost four of their last five games, but defeated Siena Heights and Concordia to get their season back on track.

Against Siena Heights on Wednesday, the Wolverines got off to a fast start as senior Jacob Drzyzga scored off an assist by freshman Brendan Petz in just the sixth minute. The teams battled hard, but UM-Dearborn was able to control possession for most of the half. They outshot the Saints 7-3 in the frame. Unfortunately, senior Luke Baker was assessed a red card in the 27th minute and Siena Heights capitalized on the subsequent free kick to tie the score at one. The teams remained tied entering the break.

The Wolverines came out in the second half determined to end their two-game losing streak. They played tight defense and were able to generate many quality shots offensively. They finally found the back of the net when freshman Christian Cuevas scored his second goal of the season in the 87th minute. Petz also picked up his second assist of the game. UM-Dearborn was able to hold on for the final few minutes and defeat the Saints 2-1.

Although they only scored two goals, UM-Dearborn’s offense played exceptionally well. They outshot Siena Heights 19-8 and had eight corner kicks. They were able to apply steady pressure on the Saints’ defense all game long. Along with his goal in the first half, Drzyzga led the team with nine total shots and three shots on goal. Petz and Cuevas also added two shots each. Freshman Brian Ostapenko made two saves to earn his second victory of the season. The Wolverines accomplished all of this despite playing a man down for most of the game after Baker’s red card. 

UM-Dearborn then traveled to Ann Arbor, Michigan to take on Concordia University on Saturday. The Maize and Blue did not get off to as good a start as they did against the Saints, but still managed to strike first. After the Cardinals dominated most of the possession early on, sophomore Jack Barnett was able to collect a rebound and punch in the back of the net to give the Wolverines a 1-0 lead (26:59). The goal was his second of the season. Concordia was able to get two goals in a four-minute span late in the half to take a 2-1 advantage into the break. The Cardinals outshot the Wolverines 11-2. 

The Wolverines were able to regroup and came out of halftime stronger offensively. They were able to get more shots off and keep the ball in the Cardinals’ end. Petz tied the score in the 65th minute and the teams battled hard for the win the rest of the way. UM-Dearborn earned a penalty kick at 84:17 and Drzyzga buried it to give his team the lead. The Maize and Blue were able to hold off the Cardinals in the final minutes to win 3-2. The victory marks the first time the team has won consecutive games this year. 

After the Wolverine offense carried them to victory against Siena Heights, the defense held up their end of the bargain against Concordia. The Cardinals outshot UM-Dearborn 17-9 for the game and dominated most of the first half. The Wolverines were able to withstand the first half onslaught and keep the game close to make a second half comeback easier. The offense greatly improved in the second half, outshooting Concordia 7-6. Drzyzga continued his impressive week by scoring and leading the team in shots with two. Barnett also recorded two shots to go with his first half goal. Ostapenko made six saves in the winning effort.

The strong week improves UM-Dearborn’s record to 4-5 overall (3-2 WHAC). They will continue WHAC play on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. against Aquinas College at Gabriel Richard High School in Riverview, Michigan.