With 8:41 remaining in the third quarter against No. 1 Penn State on Saturday, Michigan freshman attacker Bryce Clay found senior midfielder Decker Curran wide open on a cross-crease pass. Curran wound up and fired a bullet past Nittany Lions goalkeeper Colby Kneese, cutting the Wolverines’ deficit to three.
With the goal, Curran netted his 100th career point, becoming just the fourth player in Michigan history to achieve the feat.
“It’s cool,” Curran said. “I actually didn’t know I was there until it came up on the loudspeaker, but it’s obviously a huge accomplishment.”
For the Michigan men's lacrosse team (3-8 overall, 0-3 Big Ten), the moment was the lone bright spot on an afternoon where offense was hard to come by. Penn State (10-1, 3-0) would score seven unanswered goals after Curran's goal en route to a 17-7 throttling of the Wolverines.
“(The result) 100 percent (diminishes the accomplishment),” Curran said. “That’s definitely not a way the boys want to end in the fourth quarter, you know, a ten-goal deficit. The accomplishment doesn’t really mean anything if the boys aren’t winning.”
Though the season has so far been a disappointment for Michigan — the Wolverines have not yet won a Big Ten game — the strong play of Curran and his fellow seniors can act as a building block for the future of the young program.
When Curran arrived on campus four years ago, the varsity men's lacrosse program was in its infancy — just four years old at the time. As he and his fellow seniors have developed, so too has the program grown around them. For the 12 freshmen on the team, their body of work acts as an example of how extra effort can pay dividends in the future.
“(He’s) someone to look up to,” said Michigan coach Kevin Conry. “He puts a lot of time in off the field, a lot of extra shots, so it’s good to see that point production kind of kick in. … Whenever we can, we look for guys who can be a good example to guys like (freshmen) Bryce Clay and Javon Johnson.”
“I have a feeling I won’t be up there (as one of Michigan’s leading scorers) for very long,” Curran added. “But it’s pretty cool, seeing that, knowing that all that hard work has definitely paid off a bit.”
Curran’s effort on Saturday is just another in a long string of impressive performances for the senior leader. His 27 total points on the season put him fourth on the team, with his 17 goals and 10 assists placing him fourth and third, respectively, and his positive example for the team’s freshmen has already begun to pay off in small ways. Clay buried a goal of his own in the second quarter in addition to his assist on Curran’s goal, and Johnson added a key goal early in the third, while the game was still in contention.
“Every time you have a senior,” Conry said, “you expect something of his legacy to kind of live on.”
The results indicate that Curran’s legacy will live on in the younger players he mentors.