Dec. 7, 2010
TAKING TO THE PITCH
The No. 19 University of Michigan men's soccer team (17-4-3) is looking for its first national championship when it heads to the 2010 NCAA College Cup hosted by UC-Santa Barbara this weekend. The Wolverines will take on No. 2 Akron (20-1-2), national runner-up a year ago, on Friday night (Dec. 10) at 8 p.m. PST on ESPN2 in one semifinal; Louisville (19-0-3) and North Carolina (16-3-4) will battle for a spot in the final in the other semifinal beginning at 5 p.m. The two semifinal winners will then play for the 2011 national title on Sunday at 1 p.m. PST. Both of U-M's games will be televised live on ESPN2 and will be available on ESPN3.com.
Pre-game Tailgate (5 p.m. PST; Santa Barbara, Calif.)
Welcome to the College Cup -- Michigan punched a ticket to its first-ever NCAA College Cup with a 3-2 double-overtime win at No. 3 Maryland on Saturday (Dec. 4). Michigan joins Louisville as rookie College Cup participants. Michigan becomes the Big Ten's first College Cup participant since Ohio State took runner-up honors in 2007. The Big Ten has produced 10 NCAA men's soccer championship teams, with Indiana taking home seven.
Wolverines Hit New Marks in 2010 NCAA Championship -- Michigan reaching the College Cup set new records for the Wolverines in NCAA action. With the win over Maryland, Michigan has posted two road wins in NCAA action for the first time in program history. Michigan also tied the single-season record for road wins (5) and also ran its unbeaten streak to nine consecutive games. Additionally, U-M's No. 10 seed is the highest seed ever for the Wolverines. Michigan has been a No. 12 seed (2003) and No. 11 seed (2008) and reached the second round unseeded in 2004.
U-M is Rolling Heading to Santa Barbara --Michigan is on a nine-game winning streak and has won 13 of its last 15 games. Michigan's offense is also making a lot of noise during U-M's College Cup run. Michigan has outscored its opponents 40-25 in the last 15 games, including a 27-11 margin during its current nine-game winning streak. The U-M offense is being lead by senior forward Justin Meram (Shelby Township, Mich./Eisenhower),who coincidentally is also on an eight-game scoring streak. Meram has scored 11 goals in U-M's last nine games and in NCAA Championship action has tallied a team-best four goals. Meram's eight-game scoring streak is the longest for a Wolverine this season.
Akron: The Rematch -- In each round of the NCAA Championships, the Wolverines have tested their mettle against teams that they have never faced before in Central, South Carolina and Maryland, but this weekend the Wolverines will face a familiar foe in second-ranked Akron. This will be the second meeting between these teams this season. The first meeting on Oct. 19 was a 7-1 Akron win in Ohio. That game tied the record for the most goals allowed in program history but was also a game in which freshman forward Soony Saad (Dearborn, Mich./Dearborn) became the first opponent to score on the Zips on their home field. From the Akron game on, Michigan has rattled off nine straight wins all the way to the College Cup. Michigan and Akron have met in each of the last seven seasons and this will be the second time the teams have met in the NCAA Championships. Michigan defeated Akron, 2-1, at home in the first round of the 2004 national tournament.
OT is the Right Time -- Michigan has played eight overtime games this season and two in the 2010 NCAA Championship. The Wolverines boast an undefeated record in overtime games this season with a 5-0-3 record -- 2-0 in the NCAA Championship action in extra time. The record for overtime games in a season is nine set in the 2004 season. Additionally, the Maryland game was U-M's second NCAA double-overtime game. The Wolverines also went into double overtime against Notre Dame in 2004 (PK win).
Second-Half Heroics -- On the season, the Wolverines have scored 31 second-half goals, 10 more than their opponents, and during their run to the College Cup, Michigan is outscoring opponents 6-2 in the second half. In fact, U-M has yet to score a goal in the first half in the 2010 College Cup.
Pereira Makes His First Career Marker Count -- Freshman midfielder Fabio Pereira (Sao Paulo, Brazil/South Kent [Conn.]) is fifth on the team in assists (5) and scored his first career goal and game-winner in OT at Maryland to send the Wolverines to their first-ever College Cup. Pereira was named to the TopDrawwerSoccer.com National Team of the Week for his efforts.
Going, Going Back, Back to Cali, Cali -- Senior defender Jeffrey Quijano (Canoga Park, Calif,/Canoga) will return to his home state to play his final games of his Michigan career. Quijano, who has started each of U-M's last seven games, had a hand in getting the Wolverines to California. The senior defender posted the equalizer at Maryland and added an assist on classmate Justin Meram's goal for his first multi-point game of the season. In consecutive weeks, Quijano has been named to both the College Soccer News National Team of the Week and the TopDrawerSoccer.comNational Team of the Week.
Smile For the Camera -- Michigan will be playing in front of a national television audience for the sixth time this season; ESPN2 will televise all three College Cup contests. Michigan has a 3-2-0 record in televised games this season with a loss to semifinal opponent Akron on SportsTime Ohio 32. This will be the first time in program history the Wolverines have played on the ESPN family of networks.
Still Breaking Records -- U-M has set numerous records during the 2010 season and is continuing to set records heading into the College Cup. Michigan has set the record for games played (24). Additionally, the Wolverines have set records for wins (17), goals (52), points (153) and assists (49), shots on goal (184) and shots (471).
The Accolades Keep Rollin in for the Wolverines -- Michigan players have received awards in each week of the NCAA Championships with Fabio Pereira and Jeffrey Quijano being named to TopDrawerSoccer.com's National Team of the Week. Last week, Justin Meram was named College Soccer News National Player of the Week for his two-goal effort en route to U-M's 3-1 upset win over No. 18 South Carolina and he earned a spot on the TopDrawerSoccer.com National Team of the Week. Soony Saad was also named TopDrawerSoccer.com Rookie of the Year for his outstanding freshman season. Saad is second in the nation in scoring with 19 goals and leads all freshmen in scoring nationally. Saad has set numerous records this season, including breaking U-Ms' seven-year-old single-season goal scoring record along with the single-season record for points (43) and shots (143). U-M has players earn national awards each of the last three weeks. Saad, who is the only freshman nationally in the top five in both points and goals, also leads the Wolverines in game-winning markers with six on the season.
What a Way to Finish -- The Wolverines went 6-0 in November and tallied 16 goals in their November games while only giving up six goals throughout the month. The Wolverines are playing in December for the second time in program history and had an undefeated November for the first time in program history.
Wolverines Ranked -- For the first time this season and on the heels of their Big Ten Tournament title, the Wolverines were ranked in the final regular-season NSCAA Coaches Poll released on Tuesday, Nov. 16. Michigan came in at the No. 19 spot after winning the Big Ten Tournament. Michigan is No. 4 in the NSCAA Great Lakes region poll and is up to No. 9 in the TopDrawerSoccer.com Tournament 48 poll.
Wolverines in the National Rankings -- Soony Saad is tied for second in the nation in total goals (19) and is second in total points (43). He is fourth in goals per game (0.83) and points per game (1.87). Justin Meram is fifth in total points (40) and total goals (16) and is seventh in points per game (1.82) and 12th in goals per game (1.82). Additionally, Meram is tied for 30th in assists. As a team, the Wolverines are third in the nation in total goals (52), eighth in scoring offense (2.17 goals/game) and 11th in win-loss percentage (.771).
Wolverines Pick Up Hardware -- The Wolverines earned plenty of recognition at the annual Big Ten Awards Banquet. Soony Saad took home Freshman of the Year honors to go along with a first team All-Big Ten and all-freshman team honor. Justin Meram and sophomore midfielder Hamoody Saad (Dearborn, Mich./Dearborn) were named to the All-Big Ten second team, while Fabio Pereira was also selected to the all-freshman team. Senior captain Alex Wood (Northville, Mich./Northville) was U-M's Sportsmanship Award recipient.
A Little Bit of This and a Little Bit of That -- Michigan's nine home wins tie the single-season record for home wins' U-M also had nine in during the 2008 season, although six home games were played at other venues due to construction at the U-M Soccer Complex ... U-M has won two road NCAA games after previously having not won a NCAA Championship road game ... U-M has not lost an NCAA game that has gone into double overtime, advancing on penalty kicks against Notre Dame in 2003 and winning 3-2 against Maryland this season ... The Wolverines tied the record for most consecutive road wins with three, a streak that is still active ... Michigan is the second Big Ten team to be in the College Cup since 2007 when Ohio State took runner-up honors.
U-M vs. Akron - 3-5-0
U-M vs. Louisville - 1-0-1
U-M vs. North Carolina - 0-1-0
U-M on the road in the NCAA Championship - 2-2-1
U-M in NCAA Championship - 7-3
Chris Blais is 10 saves away from tying the single-season saves record
Chris Blais is one win away from moving into the top two all-time in wins.
Justin Meram is two points away from moving into the top three all-time in points.
Contact: Jessica Poole (734) 763-4423