BY MARK GIANNOTTO
Daily Sports Writer
Published October 16, 2007
It was a sideline party like none other.
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The Michigan men's lacrosse team stood toward the back end of Elbel Field, laughing and joking, basking in the glow of what they'd just accomplished.
But is it appropriate to celebrate 8-1 and 11-5 defeats in your own event - The Wolverine Showcase? It is when the losses come against defending National Champion Johns Hopkins and Division-I power Army, respectively.
"This was the best game I've ever played in," senior Tom Lehman said of the loss to
Johns Hopkins. "8-1 sounds good to me."
Playing two 22-minute running time halves, it was clear from the start the
Wolverines were little match for the Blue Jays. Johns Hopkins scored two goals within the first minute of the game.
The highlight of the night came when Army beat Johns Hopkins 9-8 in overtime in a full-fledged scrimmage.
Michigan scored more on Army in the third game of the evening, notching five goals, but ultimately doomed itself with turnovers, as both teams used the game as an opportunity to play younger, inexperienced players. Unlike the scrimmage with Johns
Hopkins, the Wolverines and Army went a full four quarters.
But considering the Wolverines are a club-varsity program unable to hand out
scholarships, simply getting the Blue Jays and Knights to travel to Ann Arbor counts as
According to Michigan coach John Paul, the idea for the Wolverine Showcase came about last June. Paul was coaching in Japan when he returned home and heard a message left by Army coach Joe Albarici asking him about possibly scrimmaging with both the Knights and Johns Hopkins.
A big part of the equation had nothing to do with Michigan lacrosse, though. Albarici and
Johns Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala were looking for a place to help with team building as well as catch a football game. Despite being major powers in lacrosse, neither the Knights nor the Blue Jays have big time college football programs.
"They want to give their guys a big school experience, like a football weekend," Paul
said. "And even Hopkins, which is the pinnacle of lacrosse, we had them working out at
Oosterbaan, and those guys go in there in awe, because those guys don't see things like
that out east. While for us, that's an old building that's about to replaced."
Although Paul wasn't ecstatic about how his team played in its first scrimmages of the
fall, he couldn't help but be pleased with the exposure the Wolverines' program received
from the event. Michigan is attempting to become a varsity program and an
official proposal to the athletic department is on the way, said Paul.
"It's important for our athletic department to see the potential for this sport," Paul
said. "We get 5,000 people to our Michigan State game. We get hundreds of people at every one of our home games. We're used to playing in front of a big crowd, and we want them to see what this sport can be."
The Wolverines' official season doesn't begin until spring, but they wrap up their fall scrimmage schedule next weekend when they travel to Ohio Wesleyan for games against Bellarmine, Wooster and Ohio Wesleyan.
Varsity aspirations aside, Michigan enjoyed its time in the spotlight.
"We got to play Hopkins at home, and there's very few Division I teams that
get to do that," Paul said.