Sunday, September 29, 2013

Northwestern Wildcats 2 at Michigan Wolverines 0 (NCAA Soccer) - September 28, 2013

I'm on my way to Detroit for game number 9 on the NFL road trip, but I made a stop in Ann Arbor, Michigan, which is famous for two reasons. First, the University of Michigan is located here. This is the school I cheered for when I was a kid, since their mascot is a wolverine, also one of the characters in X-Men, a less popular comic in those days but one which I read religiously. The second reason Ann Arbor is well known in the sports world is that it is the home of Stadium Journey, for whom I do occasional writing.

Stadium Journey's president is Paul Swaney and when I told him that Michigan had a football game on Saturday night, he agreed to go with me. So we headed over to the Small House (this is where the real football team plays, although you might know the sport as soccer) to watch the Wolverines host #7 Northwestern on a beautiful fall evening (above).

We arrived a bit late and by the time we got there, it was already 1-0 for the visitors. Amazingly, there were no seats available in the 2,000-seat stadium (the student section is above), so we stood at one corner (below).

The second half saw Northwestern score 56 seconds in (the clock is stopped in NCAA soccer so I can be precise) to make it 2-0, and although Michigan outshot the Wildcats 15-5, the game ended 2-0 for the ranked team.

Frankly, the fans didn't really care who won. This was a great night to be outside, before winter takes control. Although this is an NFL road trip, I will not pass up opportunities to see other venues and other sports and tonight's experience confirms my preference. The best thing about America is that these opportunities are always available and it just takes a bit of legwork to find the next game. Sure, most games won't be on ESPN, but there is value in seeing a game that doesn't make it to the national scene, especially in a sport that doesn't make the ESPN radar. If you are in Ann Arbor, try to see a Michigan athletics event other than football or basketball, simply because it gives you a chance to see true amateurism while it still exists.



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