Cornell’s Matt Donovan found the back of the net in overtime, the Big Red stormed the field to mob the goal scorer and the Michigan men’s lacrosse team hung its heads in defeat.
But that doesn’t mean the Wolverines (2-3) have nothing to hang their heads about.
Coming into the game as underdogs against No. 16 Cornell (3-0), Michigan threw everything it had at the Big Red in a thrilling Saturday matinee at Oosterban Fieldhouse.
Sophomore Kyle Jackson netted four goals, sophomore midfielder Brad Lott went 18-for-33 on faceoffs and freshman Ian King scored a man up goal with 26 seconds left to tie the game at 14-14, but it wasn’t enough to defeat Cornell. Sophomore Peter Kraus also netted a hat trick.
And while the Wolverines are certainly happy with their performance, there are no moral victories for the young program.
“The best thing I think tonight was that the locker tonight was really disappointed,” said Michigan coach John Paul. “ We’re at the point that we’re disappointed losing to top 15 teams and I think that says a lot about our growth. Our goals here at Michigan are not to lose to top 15 teams, they’re to beat them.”
Added Jackson: “Everyone’s a little upset that we lost. But we’re making strides as a team — from the games against Penn State and Hopkins, we’re a totally different team.”
While Michigan may not have gotten its first win versus a top-15 program today, it did give fans at a crowded Oosterban Fieldhouse a riveting, back-and-forth game.
Cornell began to take control in the third quarter, coming out of halftime with more energy and taking a 12-9 lead midway through. It looked as if they were finally going to put some distance between themselves and the Wolverines.
But Michigan managed to net two goals in quick succession, reversing the momentum. Cornell, as it had done all night, responded again.
Undeterred, Michigan’s gritty play continued. With a man-up opportunity in the final minute of the game, attackman Ian King played hero. The freshman ripped a shot five hole, sending the bench into celebration and the game into overtime.
But the momentum couldn’t carry over into the extra frame. After a trio of acrobatic saves by freshman goalie Robbie Zonino and a chaotic ground ball, the Big Red found the back of the net, puncturing the Wolverine’s upset hopes.
Lott won the opening faceoff and Jackson scored the first of his four goals early in the game, but Cornell answered almost immediately.
Lott won over 50% of his face-offs against Doug Tesoriero, one of Cornell’s all-time leader in face-off wins and one of the best faceoff men in the country.
“First half I went under 50%,” Lott said. “My goal in the second half was to come out a little stronger, help our team out. This guy is one of the top face off guys around, so I felt I had a bit of a chip on my shoulder.”
Added Paul: “The conversation needs to change now, and Lott is one of the best faceoff guys in the country. It no longer is going to be ‘He did well against a top guy,’ — he is a top guy.”
The up and down play continued in the 2nd quarter, as Jackson tallied two more of his four goals more and King scored as well, but every time Michigan put the ball in the net, the Big Red responded with a goal of its own.
Despite the tough loss, Michigan is focusing on the positives, one of which is the maturity of many of the young players on the team.
“[Our young guys] are growing up,” Paul said. “It’s part of the maturation process of our program.”