Michigan falls to No. 7 Wake Forest, NCAA Tournament run ends

Larry O'Connor
The Detroit News

Wake Forest’s Kyle Holcomb scored twice as Wake Forest ended Michigan’s NCAA Tournament run with a 3-1 third-round victory Sunday in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Holcomb scored in the 50th and 83rd minutes to give the seventh-ranked Demon Deacons (15-4-2) the win.

Bruno Lapa scored what turned out to be the winner, slamming home a penalty kick in the 70th minute.

UM’s Derick Broche made it a one-goal game with 13 minutes left in regulation only to see Holcomb add his second tally six minutes later.

Michigan forward Jack Hallahan carries the ball against Wake Forest on Sunday.

“It was a hard-fought match,” said Michigan coach Chaka Daley, whose team was making a third straight trip to the NCAAs. “In the end, it was a game of chances converted and they found their chances and we missed ours, so a little unfortunate but certainly a really highly competitive game.

“Disappointed not to move on. It’s not an easy way to end your season but at least we ended our season to a very formidable opponent.”

On Wake Forest’s opening goal, Machop Chol maneuvered down the right side before sending a hard cross that UM freshman goalkeeper Owen Finnerty managed to get a right hand on. However, Holcomb still powered the header into the back of the net for the 1-0 lead.

The Wake Forest goal broke a 429-minute shutout streak for Michigan, which had blanked Penn State 1-0, Indiana 0-0 (lost 4-3 shootout) and Wright State 0-0 (won 5-4 shootout) prior to the NCAA third-round match.

The Wolverines (11-5-6) hadn’t surrendered a goal in regulation since Nov. 10 when Michigan State’s Gianni Ferri scored in the 21st minute of a 2-1 UM win.

Lapi, who was brought down in the 18-yard box, placed his spot kick low to Finnerty’s left as the keeper dove right.

Holcomb’s second capped off a well-orchestrated passing sequence between Tater Rennhack and Justyn Thomas, which culminated with the striker blasting his shot into the upper part of the net.

Broche, who shot wide moments earlier while bearing down on goal, slotted home a rebound off Nebojsa Popovic's shot, which gave UM life.

The Novi sophomore's seventh goal of the season also broke a 325-minute scoring drought for the Wolverines, whose last goal came from senior Jack Hallahan in the 62nd minute during the team's 1-0 Big Ten tournament win over the Nittany Lions Nov. 15.  

Finnerty (Walled Lake/Detroit Catholic Central), who was making his seventh straight start, made three stops in the first half. 

"Defensively, I thought we were pretty good until we made two mistakes there in the second half," Daley said. "They were a little more sharp in capitalizing on our mistakes and that was the difference in the game a little bit."


Twitter: @larryo1961