As it did in its first game of the season against Cleveland State, the Michigan men’s lacrosse team held a multiple goal lead at halftime against Drexel. And, as they did 10 days ago, the Wolverines once again failed to completely shut the door on their opponent. This time it cost them.
Michigan (1-1) lost in double overtime, 17-16, on Tuesday, dropping its first home opener in six years at the hands of the Dragons (1-1).
By the end of the first quarter, the score read 5-1 and Michigan seemed poised to continue its streak of early-season home-field success. Senior midfielder Brent Noseworthy — who notched his 100th career point in the game’s first minute — had completed a hat trick.
The next few minutes turned out to be indicative of a pattern that kept Drexel within striking distance for the entire contest and ultimately cost the Wolverines the game. Weak defense opened space for the Dragons’ Reid Bowering to score the second of his seven goals on the day, and a holding penalty was the first of Michigan’s costly mental mistakes.
Still, though, the Wolverines went to the locker room with a 9-6 lead.
Michigan came out of halftime strong. But after killing the remainder of the penalty sustained to end the half and extending its lead on a shot from 15 yards out by junior midfielder Avery Myers, the Wolverines’ mistakes resurfaced.
“We gave them plenty of opportunities and they took advantage of them,” said Michigan coach Kevin Conry. “That’s what good teams do, that’s what well-coached teams do. I think coach (Brian) Voelker and coach (Steven) Boyle from the Drexel Dragons are really, really great coaches and they took advantage of every one of our mistakes. And we made plenty of them.”
Bowering continued to capitalize on these mistakes, scoring twice in 17 seconds by exploiting open space and a lapse in physicality during the third quarter.
Freshman attackman Bryce Clay and sophomore Kevin Mack both scored late in the third quarter, and Michigan entered the final quarter in position to win with a 12-9 lead.
Senior defenseman Michael Borda took a penalty for slashing early in the fourth, and the Wolverines failed to cross midfield within 20 seconds. The ball was turned over, and Drexel scored on the man advantage.
Michigan and the Dragons traded scoring runs for the rest of the final period, with the Wolverines going up 15-11 at one point, but ultimately finding themselves up by only a single goal, 15-14, with two minutes remaining.
Coming out of a late timeout, Myers sprinted through a double team, splitting his defenders and taking it to the crease for an impressive unassisted goal. The two-goal cushion lasted all of 37 seconds before — draped in defenders — a desperate shot by Drexel’s Matthew Varian bounced between the legs of fifth-year senior goalkeeper Tommy Heidt. Heidt did his best to salvage a win in the closing seconds, making a difficult save from close range while clinging to a one-goal lead, but Drexel tied the game with a mere 8.8 seconds left in regulation.
Michigan played some of its best defense of the game during the two overtime periods. The Wolverines forced turnovers on two consecutive possessions to cover up for their mistakes in the first OT, most notably a shot-clock violation to end a promising possession in the Dragons’ end.
In the end, however, defensive mistakes reemerged to haunt the Wolverines. Cam Harris scooped a Michigan turnover and ran the length of the field for the unassisted game-winning goal for the Dragons with 1:11 left in 2OT.
“They ended up getting the ball in transition. It looked like he got a head of steam, that kid is a pretty good athlete,” Conry said. “We had (Harris) scouted pretty athletic, and he had gotten some great opportunities in the past, in their first game. We knew he would be a threat in transition, we just didn’t get a chance. We were a little hesitant to slide off Bowering, considering he had seven goals already. We were a little hesitant to go there, and he canned it.”
The result overshadowed a brilliant day in its opponent’s zone, with the Wolverines attempting 23 shots-on-goal and 46 shots total. Mack and sophomore attackman Alex Buckanavage finished one point shy of a school record for points in a game with seven each, while Myers tallied six points of his own.
At this point in the young season, it’s far from a mystery where Michigan’s weakness lies. This isn’t lost on Conry, who already has his sights set on areas for his team to improve.
“Organization and fundamentals,” Conry said. “We were all over the place with our sticks. Our footwork was far from what we worked on for the past ten days, and that’s probably the most disappointing part.
“I didn’t do a good enough job this week as the head coach of this organization to put them in a good spot to win, and that’s on me.”
This article has been corrected to reflect a change in the scoring