After five minutes of relentless attack to begin the game, No. 8 Notre Dame scored two consecutive goals in the next two minutes to take an early 2-0 lead.
Senior attacker Tess Korten, however, quickly answered for the Michigan women’s lacrosse team. She served as the playmaker for the Wolverines, creating more open shots for her teammates.
Still trailing by one, Michigan again found help from one of its seniors, Allie Breitfeller. The attacker caught a pass from Korten while cutting right and took a turnaround shot within the arc for her first goal of the season. Her goal tied the game at 2-2, shifting the momentum in favor of the Wolverines.
Using the momentum to its advantage, the Wolverines played grittier defense, drawing four fouls and two turnovers within six minutes. The defense caused key plays that allowed a free position attempt for Michigan. Senior midfielder Anna Schueler assisted fellow senior attacker Jess Angerman off the attempt for the first lead of the game, 3-2.
But despite the play of their seniors, Michigan (0-4) ultimately fell to Notre Dame (4-1), 12-5, in Michigan Stadium.
The Wolverines’ run came to a halt as Notre Dame called the first timeout of the game. Unable to deal with the adjustments from the timeout, such as double teams on Korten, Michigan entered the second half down by two after the Fighting Irish answered with a 3-0 run of their own.
“There were a couple of timeout calls from both ways, and that’s kind of just how lacrosse goes,” Breitfeller said. “There’s ebbs and flows, people will go on runs, and there are big stops. I think it just comes down to us when there is a really big stop on defense. We need to come back and finish on attack.”
Coming out from halftime, Schueler scored her first goal of the game from an assist by Korten. Cutting the lead down to one, Michigan switched to a more aggressive defense.
Despite the Wolverines’ increased focus, Notre Dame outscored Michigan seven to two in the second half, with Schueler scoring both goals for the Wolverines. It marked the third consecutive game that Schueler has led the team in scoring.
Michigan’s second-half struggles began with foul trouble. Though they were an issue for both teams in the first half — with Notre Dame and Michigan committing 18 and 14, respectively — Notre Dame improved while the Wolverines remained the same, committing 12 in the second half.
The fouls Michigan gave up led to five free-position attempts. Fortunately for the Wolverines, the Fighting Irish converted only one of their five attempts, in part due to the efforts of redshirt freshman goaltender Alli Kothari.
Making her second career start, Kothari recorded a career-high nine saves. Despite six of the nine saves coming in the second half, Michigan failed to take advantage of her performance in the cage.
“For us, this was a great game and great learning experience from the sense that we’re really learning how to play 60 minutes,” said Michigan coach Jennifer Ulehla. “We played a great 25.”
“I would say our defense played an incredible game, our goaltender especially at the end came up very big. We had opportunities to get back in the game, and we just lost our composure.”
Despite the 0-4 start to the season, the team believes that as the season progresses, improvements will show.
“Again, I think we really did grow as a team today and our attack did really well from how it has been showing the last couple weeks,” Breitfeller said. “It’s good, we’re showing growth. And like I said, playing these teams now, further in the season, you’re going to see us when we go on those runs. And when we stop those runs and finish, then instead of it being 3-2, it’ll be 6-2.