Nov. 28, 2010

Courtesy of Michgan Athletics

The No. 19-ranked University of Michigan men's soccer team scored three times in a 10-minute span to knock off No. 18-ranked and No. 7 seed South Carolina, 3-1, on Sunday afternoon (Nov. 28) at Stone Stadium. Senior forward Justin Meram (Shelby Township, Mich./Eisenhower) scored twice to help the Wolverines advance to the NCAA Elite Eight for the second time in program history, joining the 2003 squad.

Freshman forward Soony Saad (Dearborn, Mich./Dearborn) scored his 19th of the season, sandwiched between Meram goals in the 64th and 81st minutes, and tallied an assist. Redshirt junior goalkeeper Chris Blais (Seattle, Wash./Kennedy Memorial) made six stops in the victory.

Following 63 minutes of scoreless soccer, the Wolverines strung together three straight second-half goals. Michigan opened the scoring at 63:52, converting on a third pass after a corner kick. Meram got open on the left post to receive a pass from senior midfielder Alex Wood (Northville, Mich./Northville). Meram made a quick touch and slid it into the right side of the net.

Michigan's lead extended to 2-0 on a marker from Saad six minutes later. In a mirror image of his unsuccessful scoring effort 20 minutes earlier, Saad carried the ball down the left side toward the end line where he unleashed a low line drive past the outstretched arms of the South Carolina keeper. Meram then put the game firmly out of reach inside the final 10 minutes, using a juke to streak past a defender before roofing his second marker of the game.

The Wolverines had their chances in the first half, owning an 11-7 shot advantage. Meram got in alone on a breakaway midway through the frame but was forced to shoot wide by a sliding goalkeeper. Blais kept the game scoreless late in the stanza with a diving stop off a set play. South Carolina earned a free kick near midfield and sent a booming cross to the opposite side of the field. The attacker took one touch on the ball and sent a shot at the near post, into the arms of a laid out Blais.

South Carolina got one goal past Blais in the 83rd minute on a cross play into a header to make it a 3-1 contest. Despite the marker, the Wolverines cruised to the final.

Michigan will face the winner of today's (Sunday, Nov. 28) Penn State and Maryland game in the NCAA Quarterfinals next weekend (Dec. 3-5). If Penn State claims victory, the Wolverines will host the Nittany Lions. Conversely, the Wolverines will travel to Maryland if the Terps win the match.