When Justin Meram scored a game-winning goal for the Michigan soccer team in the 89th minute last week against Oakland, he was thrilled to see good friend Brendan Gibbons cheering in the stands.
At some point, he plans to return the favor.
Meram, who became friends with the Michigan placekicker while practicing with the football team during summer camp, expects Gibbons will boot a game-winner for the Wolverines.
“It’s like soccer or any other sport,” Meram said. “When you have, say, some swagger, your confidence is high and everything is going right. I told Brendan after the Notre Dame game, if he would have made the first, chances are he would have made the second.”
Gibbons instead missed both field goal attempts against Notre Dame, and started the season 1-for-4 overall before being replaced by Seth Broekhuizen, who missed his only attempt last week against UMass.
Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez said he didn’t know who would handle kickoffs, field goal attempts or extra points against Bowling Green on Saturday (noon, ESPN2).
For now, Meram is a spectator to the competition. He’s concentrating on soccer this fall.
The senior initially tried to continue practicing with the football team, but the soccer team (4-1-3) played seven games in 15 days, including road trips to Seattle and Marquette. He needed rest.
That, combined with the complication of splitting his NCAA-allotted practice time between two teams, made the decision inevitable.
“Getting my mind focused with one sport is what you need to do at this level,” Meram said. “Hopefully I can take my skills to the next level, and with some hard work and dedication, take whatever adventure is next for me.”
The Michigan soccer team hosts Ohio State at 7 p.m. Saturday in its Big Ten opener. Meram, who led the Wolverines in scoring last year with seven goals and six assists, is a central part of their plans.
So far this season, he is the team’s second-leading points-getter, with two goals and four assists, including that game-winner against Oakland and a game-tying goal against Notre Dame.
Still, there’s a part of him drawn to football.
He excelled kicking and punting at Utica Eisenhower High School. Meram hadn’t initially thought about carrying that interest to Michigan, but Zoltan Mesko offered him pointers during his freshman year and that rekindled his interest.
He worked out with the Wolverines football team during his junior year, and last spring nailed 6 of 7 field goal attempts during the annual spring game.
Right now, Meram is leaving his football future for others to decide.
“I’m a strong believer in whatever happens is going to happen,” he said. “If I get a phone call, I get a phone call. If not, I’m all in for Michigan.”
Justin Meram's Athletic Profile:
At Michigan ... Sixth player in program history to record a hat trick (9/23/09) ... All Big-Ten second team (2009).
Senior (2010) ... Recorded the game-winning goal against Oakland (Sept. 15), his first goal of the season ... Scored U-M's lone goal in a double overtime tie with Marquette (Sept. 19) ... Named to the Seattle University Tournament All-Tournamen team ... tallied two assists in U-M's 2-0 shutout of Illinois-Chicago (Sept. 10) ... In games against Illinois-Chicago (Sept. 10)and Seattle (Sept. 12)tallied a combined 15 shots, with six on goal ... Saw his first action of the season against No. 14 Drake (Sept. 3) ... Posted six shots with one hitting the frame against the Bulldogs.
Junior (2009) ... Saw action in 18 games, with 17 starts ... Led the team in points with 20 (7g, 6a) ... Registered 48 shots with 24 on frame ... Has two game-winners on the season ... Made his debut as a starter against Notre Dame (Sept. 1) ... Picked up three points (1g, 1a) in U-M's 2-1 win over Valparaiso (Sept. 6) ... Recorded assists against No. 21 Drake (Sept. 3), Wright State (Sept. 11) and Detroit (Sept. 16) ... Posted three points (1g, 1a) in U-M's 5-1 win over Western Michigan (Sept. 19) for his second multi-point game of the season ... Registered two shots on goal against Western Michigan (Sept. 19) ... Became the sixth player in program history to register a hat trick with three goals against Bowling Green (Sept. 23) ... Tallied a career-high six points in U-M's 5-1 win over Bowling Green ... Also tallied the game-winner against the Falcons ... Scored his sixth goal of the season in U-M's 3-0 win over Wisconsin (Oct. 4) ... Posted four shots, including one on goal against No. 14 Indiana (Oct. 10) ... Became one of three players to score on top-ranked Akron (Oct. 20), picked up his seventh goal of the season against the Zips ... Posted three shots; including one on goal in U-M's 1-0 double overtime upset victory over No. 12 Northwestern (Nov. 1) ... Recorded two shots against Ohio State (Nov. 7).
2007-08 (Yavapai College) ... Led team to back-to-back NJCAA National Championships ... Earned 2008 National Junior College Player of the Year honors ... Named NSCAA and NJCAA All-American and also earned ACCAC Conference Player of the Year honors ... Earned MVP at both the national and regional tournaments during the 2007 season ... Set new program record for points (132) and finished second all-time in goals (51) and assists (30).
Prep ... Eisenhower (2007) ... Four-year varsity team member ... Earned MHSAA All-State first team honors as a senior ... Named MAC Conference Player of the Year as a senior.
Club/Junior Team ... Vardar ... Two-time regional finalists and two-time national finalists.
Personal ... Enrolled in the College of Literature, Science and the Arts.