- James Coller/Daily
By Mitch Beckman, Daily Sports Writer
Published March 18, 2014
Empty beer glasses, left over from the Winter Classic on Jan. 1, still littered the empty seats. Large mounds of snow still occupied the endzones of the Big House as the Michigan men’s lacrosse team took the field Tuesday.
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Less than ideal stadium conditions and a less than ideal outcome for the Wolverines.
Its first game back on the gridiron was one of the toughest tests the Wolverines have seen all year, the No. 1 Maryland Terrapins.
The home field advantage and two goals apiece from a pair of freshmen — attackman Ian King and midfielder Mike Schlosser — weren’t enough for Michigan (4-5), who fell to the Terrapins 13-5 in the programs’ first meeting of many to come, as Maryland joins the Big Ten next season.
Maryland took control of the game once and for all early in the fourth quarter, going on its second five-goal run of the game, pushing the score to 13-4.
Defense dominated the first half, as neither team could find much space around the goal. Senior midfielder Thomas Paras struck first, but the Terrapins (7-0) stormed back with a five-goal run. King scored his first of the day, cutting the lead to three, but a pivotal Maryland goal with just three seconds left in the half gave it the momentum and a four-goal lead before halftime.
Both offenses found their footing in the second half. Schlosser tallied two in the third quarter, but the Terrapins scored four of their own and never allowed the Wolverines to grab the momentum back.
“Individually they’re very good but their defensive systems are good,” Paras said. “They pride themselves on being a good defensive team and have a great goalkeeper. They force you into some tough situations.”
On the defensive side of the ball, Michigan’s quick slides and timely double teams kept Maryland in check for a large part of the first half, but the Terrapins offense adapted coming out of halftime, and was able to find more quality looks at the net than they had in the first half.
“Obviously they have a very good offense. They’re the No. 1 team in the country right now for a reason,” said Michigan coach John Paul. “We’re not very deep defensively right now, we have some guys out and some guys playing who haven’t been playing a lot that are making some mistakes. It’s not their fault, they just haven’t been in this situation much.”
The Wolverines will have to get used to seeing the Terripans and other high-caliber teams on a regular basis, as the Wolverines will see Penn State, Maryland and Johns Hopkins — all teams currently ranked in the top 20 nationally — every season as part of the Big Ten conference.
Paul is welcoming the opportunity to play the nation’s top competition, and knows playing these teams in his program’s early years is sending it in the right direction.
“Our first two years, we’d probably feel like ‘at least we didn’t get smoked,’ but today that was a locker room that was pretty disappointed in the way they played,” Paul said. “That’s a good step for us. We have guys in there who feel they match up against teams like this, we just have to learn how to play better lacrosse and that’s coming.”
Added Paras: “We had a lot of confidence coming into today. Years past there’s been a bit of a mystique around playing teams like Cornell and Hopkins, but this year we know we can hang with them. This program’s definitely trending in the right direction.”