ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan trailed 1-0 with 21 minutes remaining, but three goals from junior Fabio Villas Boas Pereira in seven minutes proved to be the difference as the Wolverines defeated Niagara 3-1 on Thursday in the opening round of the NCAA tournament.
Michigan (11-9-1) controlled the action in the first half, outshooting the Purple Eagles by a 16-1 margin.
Niagara (13-2-4) found the first breakthrough of the match in the 59th minute on a counter attack. Michah Paulino sent a ball inside the 18 to Bryan Da Cruz, who beat Michigan goalkeeper Adam Grinwis to the lower right for the first goal of the contest, giving the Purple Eagles the early advantage.
A shot in the 66th minute by Latif Alashe resulted in a handball inside the box and a penalty attempt for the Wolverines. Pereira’s attempt was converted, knotting the contest at one with 24 minutes to play. He struck again 2:18 later, ripping a shot from 25 yards out that deflected off a Niagara defender and found the lower right corner of the goal to give Michigan a 2-1 lead.
Michigan’s final tally came in the 73rd minute on the Wolverine’s second penalty shot of the night, as Pereira sealed the 3-1 victory. The hat trick is the first of his career and the first since teammate Etienne Lussiez netted three against Detroit last season on Sept. 14.
The Wolverines advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament for the fourth time and will take on Akron on Sunday.