First Touch #11: U-M Takes on Penn State in Big Ten Tournament

Nov. 9, 2009

Thursday, Nov. 12, 3 p.m. -- vs. Penn State - Big Ten Championship First Round (Bloomington, Ind.)
Live Stats

The University of Michigan men's soccer team (10-6-1, 2-4-0 Big Ten) will seek its first Big Ten championship on Thursday (Nov. 12) when it begins the Big Ten Championship with a first-round matchup with Penn State at 3 p.m. at Armstrong Stadium in Bloomington, Ind. If the Wolverines pick up the win they will face the winner of No. 3 seed Northwestern and No. 6 seed Michigan State on Friday (Nov. 13) at 4:30 p.m. live on the Big Ten Network. The Big Ten Network will carry both semifinal matches and the championship game live. Kenn Tomasch, Richard Broad, Dean Linke and Chris Doran will make up the Big Ten Network crew. The winner of Sunday's championship will earn the league's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.

Thursday-Sunday, November 12-15
Bill Armstrong Stadium (Bloomington, Ind.)

Thursday, Nov. 12 - First Round
Game 1-- #3 Seed Northwestern vs. #6 Seed Michigan State (10 a.m.)
Game 2 -- #4 Seed Indiana vs. #5 Seed Wisconsin (12:30 p.m.)
Game 3 -- #2 Seed Penn State vs. #7 Seed Michigan (3 p.m.)
Friday, Nov. 13 - Semifinals
Game 4 -- #1 Seed Ohio State vs. Game 2 Winner (2 p.m.) -- Live on Big Ten Network
Game 5 -- Game 1 winner vs. Game 3 Winner (4:30 p.m.) -- Live in Big Ten Network
Sunday, Nov. 15 - Championship Game
Game 6 -- Game 4 winner vs. Game 5 winner (2 p.m.) -- Live on Big Ten Network

Mauro Fuzetti (Houston, Texas/Stratford)
Senior forward Mauro Fuzetti (Houston, Texas/Stratford) has been an important piece of U-M's offense all season long. The senior leads the Wolverines with eight goals on the season, and in U-M's regular-season finale against Ohio State became Michigan's all-time leader in shots attempted. His seven shots against the Buckeyes give him 182 career attempts. Fuzetti has played in 75 career games with 67 career starts. He is also tied for third all-time at Michigan in points with 61 (23 goals, 15 assists) and needs only two more career goals to move into the top 3 all-time in scores.

Scouting the Opponents
Penn State -- The Nittany Lions come into the postseason with a 2-2 record in their last four games, although a loss in the regular-season finale at Indiana cost them sole possession of first place in the Big Ten. The Nittany Lions are led by Corey Hertzog, who has eight goals and six assists on the season. Warren Gross leads the Lions between the pipes and has a 0.86 goals-against average and a .779 save percentage. This season Penn State took the regular-season meeting between the two teams. Penn State leads the all-time series 8-3-1 and has a 2-0 record against the Wolverines in Big Ten Championship action.

2009 Meeting: Oct. 10 at Michigan, 1-0 (L)
All-time series: 1-12-1

Michigan State
2009 Meeting: Oct. 25 at Michigan State, 2-1 (L)
All-time series: 2-9-1

2009 Meeting: Nov. 1 at Michigan, 1-0 (W)
All-time series: 8-4-1

Ohio State
2009 Meeting: Nov. 7 at Ohio State, 1-0 (L)
All-Time Series: 5-7-1


Wolverines at the Big Ten Championship
The Wolverines garnered the No. 7 seed for this week's Big Ten Championship for the third time in program history. U-M was the No. 7 seed in 2004 when it reached the semifinals and earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament and in 2007 when it fell to Ohio State in first-round action.

End of Season Awards Time
On Thursday (Nov. 12) the Big Ten will announce the all-conference awards. If the awards from throughout the season are any indication, several Wolverines have a chance to hear their name called. Wolverine players have been named to the National Teams of the Week on three occasions and earned Big Ten Player of the Week on three occasions. U-M also boasts four all-tournament selections and one Most Outstanding Offensive Player selection, senior forward Mauro Fuzetti (Houston, Texas/Stratford).

TV Time
Should the Wolverines advance past the first round in this week's Big Ten Championship, they will be playing in games televised on the Big Ten Network. The Wolverines have a 1-6-1 record when playing in televised contests and just this season picked up their first-ever win on the Big Ten Network with a 1-0 double-overtime victory over Northwestern. In Big Ten Championship action, U-M has played in one televised match, a 1-0 loss to Indiana in last year's Big Ten Championship semifinals.

Michigan Offense Update
Michigan's offense this season has been quite prolific, outscoring opponents 31-20 and 21-12 in the second half but lately U-M's offense has been stalled. U-M has lost three of its last four games and has only scored three goals in those games. Prior to the final four games of the season, the Wolverines have been averaging 2.15 goals per game and were outscoring their opponents, 28-13, and outshooting their opponents, 228-169. During the recent four-game stretch, U-M is being outscored, 8-3, and outshot, 63-56. U-M's offensive trio of senior forward Mauro Fuzetti (Houston, Texas/Stratford), junior forward Justin Meram (Shelby Township, Mich./Yavapai College) and freshman Hamoody Saad (Dearborn, Mich./Dearborn) has been held to only one goal between the three of them in the last four games. The trio accounts for nearly 70 percent of the U-M offense this season.

U-M Earns Double-Digit Victories for Third Consecutive Season
The Wolverines picked up their 10th win of the season with their win over Northwestern on Sunday, November 1. The victory marked the third consecutive season the Wolverines have picked up double-digit victories and the seventh time in program history. Michigan also posted double digit victories in four consecutive seasons from 2001-2004.

Fuzetti and Meram on Fire
Senior forward Mauro Fuzetti (Houston, Texas/Stratford) has been a crucial piece to the U-M offense this season. Fuzetti is second on the team with eight goals and 19 points. In fact, Fuzetti has accounted for 30 percent of U-M's offense this season. Junior Justin Meram (Shelby Township, Mich./Yavapai College) leads the team in points with seven goals and six assists for 20 points.

As Fuzetti Goes So Does Michigan Offense
Senior forward Mauro Fuzetti (Houston, Texas/Stratford) is undoubtedly an important piece in U-M's offensive scheme, but just how important is Fuzetti? The Wolverines are 7-0-0 this season when Fuzetti scores a goal. The only times Fuzetti has not scored a goal have been in a 5-1 win at Western Michigan (Sept. 19), a 2-0 win at Cincinnati (Oct. 14) and a 1-0 double-overtime win against Northwestern (Nov. 1) and Michigan's losses to Notre Dame (Sept. 1), Penn State (Sept. 27,) Indiana (Oct. 10) Akron (Oct. 20),Michigan State (Oct. 25) and Ohio State (Nov.7), as well as a 0-0 tie with Oakland (Sept. 30). Although an important piece of U-M's offense Fuzzeti has not scored a goal in U-M's last six games, a stretch in which the Wolverines have a 2-4 record.

Fuzetti Moving Up the Ranks
Senior forward Mauro Fuzetti (Houston, Texas/Stratford) is poised to make some noise in the U-M record book this season. Fuzetti, who is U-M's leading scorer with eight goals on the season, is tied for third all-time at U-M with 61 career points and is fourth with 23 career goals. He became U-M's all-time leader in shots this season with 182 shots. Fuzetti is also poised to break into U-M's top five all-time in assists. He currently has 15 career assists and only needs one more to move into a tie for fifth place with former U-M great Knox Cameron (2001-03).

Saad Creates U-M Offensive Trio
Freshman midfielder Hamoody Saad (Dearborn, Mich. /Dearborn) is not playing like a freshman and his opponents are starting to take notice. Saad, who is U-M's third-leading scorer with five goals, has formed a viable offensive trio with senior forward Mauro Fuzetti (Houston, Texas/Stratford) and junior forward Justin Meram (Shelby Township, Mich./Yavapai College). Saad has the ability to both score and distribute, making him dangerous in the U-M offense. He has posted six multi-point games and has 16 points on the season. He was named to the National Team of the Week (Sept. 22) for his two assists and a goal against Detroit (Sept. 16) and Western Michigan (Sept. 19).

All Freshmen, All The Time
The Wolverines have 11 players that are seeing their first collegiate action, including nine that are true freshmen. In addition, U-M has four freshmen that have seen time in the starting lineup. In fact, true freshman midfielder Latif Alashe (Northville, Mich. /Northville) has started every game this season, while true freshmen midfielder Hamoody Saad (Dearborn, Mich. /Dearborn) and defender Kofi Opare (Niagara Falls, Ontario/St. Paul) have each recorded a goal this season. Redshirt freshman Alex Klein (Seattle, Wash. /The Bush School) also recorded his first career marker this season.

Just Blais
Junior/sophomore goalkeeper Chris Blais (Seattle, Wash. /Kennedy Memorial) backstopped the Wolverines to a seven-game win streak this season and did so in impressive fashion. In his first outing, he recorded a career-best six saves against Notre Dame (Sept. 1) and also posted back-to-back shutouts against Wright State (Sept. 11) and Lipscomb (Sept. 13) at the Michigan Invitational. He went 258:49 without being scored on until Detroit scored a goal in the 28th minute on Sept. 16. He collected his third and fourth shutouts of the season with a 0-0 tie against Oakland (Sept. 30) and a 3-0 win over Wisconsin (Oct. 4). Blais was named to the National Team of the Week on Oct. 19 for picking up his fifth shutout of the season in a 2-0 win at Cincinnati while tying his career high with six saves. He has been named Big Ten Player of the Week on two occasions, most recently on Nov. 2 when he posted four saves in U-M's 1-0 double-overtime victory over Northwestern (Nov. 1). He's also upholding Michigan's commitment to excellence in the classroom and was recently named to the CoSIDA presented by ESPN the Magazine Academic All-America All District First Team, which makes him eligible for Academic All-America honors.

U-M Men's Soccer Program, Steve Burns Reach Century Mark
The Wolverines not only sent off the 2009 senior class in style with a 1-0 double-overtime upset victory over No. 12 Northwestern (Nov. 1) but also earned the 100th win in program history and gave U-M head coach Steve Burns his 100th career victory. U-M has a 100-78-19 all-time program record. Burns has the distinction of being the only head coach in U-M men's soccer history.

The Week That Was
The Wolverines dropped a 1-0 heartbreaker to Ohio State in their regular-season finale on Saturday (Nov. 7). The Wolverines executed their game plan for the Buckeyes, but a goal from David Tiemstra in the finals two second of the first half was all the Buckeyes needed to secure a win and the Big Ten regular-season championship. Senior forward Mauro Fuzetti (Houston, Texas/Stratford) led the offense with seven shots, including four on target but could not get the equalizer for the Wolverines. Goalkeeper Chris Blais (Seattle, Wash./Kennedy Memorial) made four saves in the loss.

Wolverines Rank High In Big Ten Rankings
Senior forward Mauro Fuzetti (Houston, Texas/Stratford) is ranked in several categories in the Big Ten offensive statistics. He's tied for second in shots per game (4.00), and goals per game (0.50). He is third in goals (8) and is fourth in shots (64), points per game (1.19) and is sixth in points (19). Junior forward Justin Meram (Shelby Township, Mich. /Yavapai College) is tied for third in the league in assists (6) and assists per game (0.35) and is fifth in points per game (1.18).He is fifth in points with 20 points on the year and is seventh in shots (48) and shots per game (2.82). Freshman midfielder Hamoody Saad (Dearborn, Mich. /Dearborn) is tied for third in assists (6) and assists per game (0.35) and is ninth in points per game (0.94). Junior/sophomore goalkeeper Chris Blais (Seattle, Wash. /Kennedy Memorial) is third in the league in saves with 61 and is tied for third in shutouts with six. Blais is also sixth in saves percentage with a .753 percentage and sixth in goals against average (1.19). He is also fifth in saves per game (3.59). As a team, U-M leads the league in points (96), goals per game (1.82), assists (34) and assists per game (2.00) and is second in shots with 284 and goals (31).

U-M Hold Several Big Ten Team Highs
Individually, junior forward Justin Meram's (Shelby Township, Mich./Yavapai College) three goals and seven points against Bowling Green is tops of a Big Ten player this season, while Mauro Fuzetti's (Houston, Texas/Stratford) 11 shots against Wright State (Sept. 11) is tops in the Big Ten this season. As a team, the Wolverines also own several top spots. U-M's 18 points against Western Michigan (Sept. 19) and 16 points against Bowling Green (Sept. 23) are the top two team highs for a Big Ten season and the five goals U-M scored against Western Michigan (Sept. 19) and Bowling Green (Sept. 23) are among the top goals scored this season. U-M's eight assists against Western Michigan (Sept. 19) is also tops for a Big Ten team this season, while its 31 shots against Oakland (Sept. 30) is second best this season.

In The National Rankings This Week
The Wolverines are just outside the rankings in the latest NSCAA/adidas national poll released on Nov. 10. In the NSCAA/adidas Great Lakes region poll, U-M is also receiving votes. Last week, the Wolverines were just outside the rankings in the national poll and were ranked No. 10 in the regional poll. Additionally, the Maize and Blue are ranked No. 29 in's tournament 48 poll.

Former Wolverine Peri Marosevic Pens a Diary from the Under-20 World Cup in Egypt
Former Wolverine forward Peri Marosevic, a member of FC Dallas of the MLS, penned a Under-20 World Cup Diary of his experiences with the USA U-20 National Team at the upcoming World Cup being held Sept. 24-Oct.16 in Egypt. Peri has spent time with the Under-20 national team at the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) Under-20 Championship in March in Trinidad & Tobago. [ Check it out here ]

2009 Season Marks U-M's First Decade
The U-M men's soccer team will celebrate its first decade this season. The Wolverines played their first season as a varsity team in 2000 and have been to three NCAA Tournaments, including an Elite Eight appearance in 2003, their first appearance in the national tournament. The Wolverines honored the 2000 men's soccer team, it's first season as a varsity sport, at their annual alumni weekend.

Introducing the Captain and his helpers
Senior defender Danny Gray (Setauket, N.Y./Chaminade) is serving as a captain for the second consecutive season. Last season, Gray served as a tri-captain with Mike Holody and Jake Stacy, but this season Gray is leading the Wolverines by himself but not without help. In something new this season, junior defender Chase Tennant (Rochester, Mich. /Rochester) and senior Julian Robles (Los Angeles, Calif. /Damien) will be serving as assistant captains.

Captains Corner
U-M senior captain Daniel Gray (Setauket, N.Y./Chaminade) will give readers a glimpse inside the men's soccer program with his captain's blog, Captains Corner with Danny Gray. [ Check out his blog ]

Hey...We're on Twitter!
Michigan men's soccer is now on Twitter. Sign up and follow the Wolverines (Michigan_msocc) with up-to-the-minute news and information throughout the season and beyond. Twitter is a free casual, online social network that is designed to connect businesses, organizations and individuals. Each Twitter post (or "tweet") can be received on a user's cell phone via text or on the web.

2009 Yearbook and Record Book
Beginning with the 2009-10 academic year, the University of Michigan athletics department will no longer print media guides. U-M fans and media can still obtain all the information they're used to, only now it's available online. If you're looking for in-depth historical information, statistics, records, archives, etc., the Record Book is what you'll need. For more of a general overview of a team, the staff and student-athletes, check out the Yearbook Check them both out in our new publications section

The U-M Soccer Complex
The Wolverines moved into the U-M Soccer Complex during the 2008 campaign, a three-field, soccer-exclusive facility that is part of a $6 million project that is funded by Intercollegiate Athletics resources and gifts. Work will begin on the stadium, slated to open in the fall of 2010, in October on the site of the current competition field. The men's soccer team played its home games at the Michigan Soccer Field, an all-grass field on South State Street since its inaugural season in 2000 and compiled a 38-18-7 record in eight seasons. The first game played by the men's team was a 1-0 victory over DePaul. The field also played host to 2004 Big Ten Championship and twice was the site of a U-M NCAA Tournament contest.

The Leader of the Maize and Blue
Steve Burns enters his 10th season at the helm of the University of Michigan men's soccer program. He has guided the Wolverines to three NCAA Tournament appearances, seen the team to varsity status, overseen the proposition and execution of the new U-M Soccer Complex and built a program that is consistently among the nation's elite. Burns' resume also includes leading the U-M club soccer team to back-to-back national titles.

Burns' staff is made up of associate head coach Paul Snape, assistant coach Chris Grassie and volunteer assistant Waldir DeSouza. Snape is in his seventh season with the U-M program and was recently elevated to his current position of associate head coach after spending six seasons as the first assistant. Prior to his tenure at Michigan, Snape spent seven seasons playing with the Mid-Michigan Bucks. Grassie, who enters his third season with the Wolverines, played professionally in England, most recently with Kidsgrove Athletic, then a part of the Alliance Premier League, and Northwich when it was part of the Football Conference. He also spent the 2004-06 season on staff at Marshall University where he focused on team training, goalkeepers and recruiting. DeSouza is back with head coach Burns for his 10th season and will continue to help the Wolverines with the management of team training and fitness.

Rank and File
Michigan earned a No. 22 preseason ranking by the National Soccer Coaches of American (NSCAA) and a No. 24 ranking in TopDrawerSoccer's preseason edition of the 2009 men's tournament 48 ranking. The Tournament 64 rankings are a running attempt to project the postseason college soccer tournament qualifiers, including every automatic conference berth.

Contact: Jessica Poole (734) 763-4423

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