COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Junior Francis Atuahene scored the golden goal in the 104th minute to lift the No. 19-ranked University of Michigan men's soccer team to its first Big Ten title, defeating No. 9 Maryland, 2-1, in double overtime on rain-soaked Sunday (Oct. 29) at Ludwig Field.
With the win, Michigan is the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten Tournament and will host either No. 8-seed Northwestern or No. 9-seed Rutgers in the quarterfinals next Sunday (Nov. 5) at U-M Soccer Stadium.
The No. 8/No. 9 game is slated for noon on Saturday (Nov. 4) inside U-M Soccer Stadium.
"We're very excited and our staff is very proud of the players for their work, resilience and character," said head coach Chaka Daley. "Our group was highly invested and we dreamed about competing with the heavy hitters in the league, and we put ourselves in a place to compete with them. Hearing the result of the other match with about 20 minutes to go gave us a big lift, and we started to get ahold of it a bit in the second half.
"This time last year we were 4-11-2, and this year we're Big Ten champions. We're fortunate, we're lucky and we worked very hard to get to this point."
The Big Ten title came into play midway through the second half after Michigan State and Indiana played to a 1-1 draw in East Lansing, Michigan. That result meant that if either Michigan or Maryland won the match, it would also win the title outright.
Your WINNER!!!— U-M Men's Soccer (@umichsoccer) October 29, 2017
Michigan (11-4-2, 6-1-1 B1G) got off to the dream start in the sixth minute of play on a set-piece goal from Daniel Mukuna. Freshman Marc Ybarra sent in the cross and connected with Mukuna, who flicked it on with his head past Maryland goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair and into the side netting.
The Terrapins knotted up the match at 1 in the 35th minute on a goal from BJ Reeves, cleaning up a loose ball in the box.
Freshman Henry Mashburn made a pair of massive stops in the opening 15 minutes of the second half to keep the match level. He made four saves on the evening.
Once the match in East Lansing went final -- and knowing Maryland would be content with a draw -- Michigan went all-out, bombarding the Terrapins in the attacking third. The Wolverines held an 8-0 advantage in shots in the final 20 minutes of the second half, but the two teams went to overtime.
The score remained 1-1 until Atuahene's magical finish midway through the second frame of extra time. Sophomore Jack Hallahan served a perfect cross into the middle of the six-yard box, aiming for freshman Mohammed Zakyi, who made a run that pulled out St. Clair. Neither of them got the ball, which skipped to an onrushing Atuahene at the back post, and he pushed it into an open net to give the Wolverines the victory.