The Michigan men’s lacrosse team trailed 11-10 in its exhibition game Saturday against No. 18 Marquette. The Wolverines desperately needed a spark late in the contest.
With one flick of senior attacker Ian King’s stick, he tied the game at 11. And with 10.3 seconds left in the third period, he added another goal, giving Michigan a 12-11 lead heading into the final quarter.
Being an offensive spark plug is nothing new for King, who has tallied 68 goals and 29 assists through his first three seasons for Michigan. It is not the most significant thing expected of him, though.
“If he’s leading and he’s letting the game come to him and being a steadying force on our offense and not ‘the guy’ on our offense, we’re going to be in pretty good shape,” said Michigan coach John Paul. “There’s going to be times where we need him to be ‘the guy’, but that can’t be his mindset day in, day out. We want to take that pressure off him and just have him play lacrosse.”
Kyle Jackson served in that role for Michigan last season before being drafted seventh overall by the Rochester Knighthawks in the 2016 National Lacrosse League Draft. He left the program as the all-time leading scorer, with 113 points. While King claims filling Jackson’s shoes will be a collective effort, the reality is that King is the most notable returner. With another full season ahead of him, King needs just 16 points to shatter Jackson's record. Still, the Wolverines' staff is hoping he assumes a role as a leader more than a scorer.
“I think we have a lot of good freshmen that are coming in and filling spots,” King said. “We lost a lot of points with Kyle Jackson, but if there is any added responsibility (for me), I’ll take it, but I don’t think there is.”
Added Paul: “He’s matured. He’s become a little more of a leader this year, which is what we need from him. You need your best player to lead. … He’s just worked really hard to set a better example.”
Entering his final season, King can likely surpass Jackson’s school record. But as for his ultimate goal, King said he wants to win the Big Ten Tournament and advance to postseason play for the first time in program history.
“If I break (the record), it would be an honor, but I’m more focused on the team winning,” King said. “I’d love to see wins come. If the points come with it, then I’ll be happy, too.”