Nick Rowlett came out with a banner performance Thursday afternoon.
The sophomore midfielder tied the record for faceoff wins in a single contest facing Marquette — a game Michigan won, 13-12. Rowlett secured 22 of 29 total faceoffs during the game, and he currently leads the team in groundballs during a game with 13 — a third of the game’s total.
But the success was eclipsed by the game becoming the final Michigan athletic event of the academic year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the top of the third quarter, the Wolverines were leading the Golden Eagles, 9-6. The contest was close, with Marquette’s tight defense making it difficult for Michigan to get accurate shots on goal, pushing midfielders into the neutral zone and forcing over possession. Rowlett took his position at the center dot, ready.
“A lot of it is just patience and knowing that I’ve done this a million times before,” Rowlett said. “I just kind of keep doing what I know how to do.”
Rowlett immediately had control of the faceoff after the whistle blew, snatching up the groundball and delivering to the midfield.
“Having those possessions, especially grinding on a one-goal game, definitely gives us an edge,” Rowlett said.
When asked about that particular play post-game, Rowlett smiled shyly: “I don’t think there’s one faceoff that’s better than the other … as long as the team gets possession.”
Winning possession meant the difference between victory and loss for the Wolverines, and Rowlett dominated those crucial faceoffs the whole game. He won the first three faceoffs before Michigan finally answered Marquette’s two-point lead in the final six minutes of the first quarter.
“I felt like the juices were flowing and it was really fueled by Nick Rowlett’s performance today,” Michigan coach Kevin Conry said. “He was really on it, he was fantastic. You know, winning 22 of 29 faceoffs and 13 groundballs, especially after a struggling weekend, it really kind of lighted our fire.”
But after the termination of the season, the win — and Rowlett’s role in it — seem like silver linings.
The salt in the wound is that Rowlett was out for the entirety of his freshman season with an injury. With this season cut short, he’ll have to wait another year to light that fire again.