Saturday, the Michigan men’s lacrosse lineup was missing some familiar faces. Seniors Avery Myers — a starter in the midfield last season — and Finn Goonan were out with injuries. So, Michigan coach Kevin Conry turned to his youngest players.
They did more than heed his call.
Freshman midfielder Jake Bonomi broke the seal for the Wolverines with his first career goal. Scoring within the first five minutes of play, Bonomi set the tone for the offensive core, and finished the game with two goals and one assist in a 16-9 win over Cleveland State.
“He’s a missile,” Conry said. “He’s like the Energizer Bunny coming out of the box. We knew that we could surprise some people. The key with Jake is to continue to develop and keep playing as hard as he does.”
Bonomi is not the only weapon in Michigan’s offensive unit. Sophomore attackman Bryce Clay led the team with three goals and junior attackman Kevin Mack put up two goals. With Myers — who was second in goals last year — set to return any week, the offensive unit will be a balance of upperclassmen who can lead the team and young players with a lot of potential.
“We have some firepower with our offensive unit, but it’s more about the leadership,” Conry said.
Freshman attackman Josh Zawada had an impressive start to his career as well, leading the team with three assists and putting up two goals, matching fellow freshman defensemen Dylan Gardner in scoring.
“It felt awesome,” Zawada said. “It’s a dream come true wearing the Michigan uniform and wings on our helmets.”
“ … I get a lot of support from the upperclassmen. Every time I don’t know the plays and I don’t know where to go on the field they guide me through it and then the next rep I know what to do.”
The Wolverines hope leadership and team chemistry will lead them to a strong season. The team struggled last year to a 4-9 record overall and went 1-4 in the Big Ten.
And considering how injury-prone the team was last season, being able to rely on younger players that have the ability to step up and perform will be important for Michigan. Veteran Wolverines have now seen they can trust the freshmen to hold their ground at a high level.
“It’s huge,” Clay said. “We know they can play, and that’s why they’re on the field.”