Amid a season of firsts for the Wolverines, they added another.
When the No. 8 Michigan women’s lacrosse team (13-0 overall, 3-0 Big Ten) took the field on Saturday afternoon, not only was it putting its perfect record on the line –– it was seeking its first win in program history against No. 18 Johns Hopkins (8-3, 1-1). And led by an offensive outburst from sophomore attacker Caitlin Muir and sophomore midfielder Maggie Kane, the Wolverines powered their way to a 16-11 victory at U-M Lacrosse Stadium.
“It’s a team we haven’t beaten before,” said Michigan coach Hannah Nielsen. “It’s a team that came in and beat us at home last year, so you know, the girls were playing a little bit of revenge there. And they did great. They’re showing up every game and there’s things to tweak each game, but we’ve been doing that and today is a big one for the program.”
As the final seconds of the possession clock were winding down at the end of the first half, the Wolverines found themselves in position to take their first lead of the afternoon. Michigan, which dug itself into an early 5-2 deficit, now had Johns Hopkins on the ropes after rattling off three straight goals to tie the game.
When the possession clock reached single digits, sophomore attacker Caitlin Muir found daylight inside the 8-meter arc. Muir curled around the back of the net and emerged on the left side of Blue Jays’ goalkeeper Haley Crosson. She drifted toward the center of the arc, fired and found the back of the net to give the Wolverines their first lead of the afternoon, 6-5, with 14.8 seconds remaining in the half.
“Well we got the ball,” Nielsen said. “I think that was a big thing (that led to the four-goal stretch). Our defense had an awesome first 10 minutes of the game and only held them to a few goals. And really whenever we got the ball we were throwing it away. We couldn’t win a draw control and once we started doing that, we had the ball and we knew we could score goals and that’s what happened.”
The early stages of Saturday afternoon’s contest were controlled by the Blue Jays. They retained possession, easily worked their way into their offensive sets and limited Michigan to just two goals through the first 20 minutes of the game. But as its grasp on possession loosened, so did Johns Hopkins’ control of the game.
With under eight minutes remaining in the half, Muir ignited the Wolverines’ four-goal streak that ended the first half. She weaved her way into the arc and rifled a shot past Crosson for her first of six goals on the afternoon. The sophomore, who recorded seven points in total, increased her season goal total to 22 and also recorded her 17th assist of the season.
“I definitely couldn’t have done it without my team, obviously,” Muir said. “But my team kept opening up alleys and giving me the ball, so it was really nice. They opened it all up for me.”
Added Nielsen: “She’s not big in size but she’s big in presence … her composure, her athleticism, her dodging ability, she works on a lot outside of practice and it’s great to see her get rewarded. Six goals in a huge game is a really good effort by her.”
Both sides exchanged goals during the opening stages of the second half, keeping the score tight at 9-8 before Michigan finally put the game away. A five-goal stretch later in the half propelled the Wolverines to a 16-9 lead with under four minutes remaining.
Kane was a contributing factor in the second half, pouring in all four of her goals in the second frame to go along with two assists on the afternoon. She tied her career high with six points on Saturday.
Michigan is continuing to improve upon its previous season-best record of 7-10, remaining undefeated ahead of next weekend’s matchup against No. 2 Maryland.
“It’s just all excitement right now,” said junior midfielder Molly Garrett. “This year has been a big year of just redemption from the years past of losing all these games. And coming out here where this is a big opportunity to get redemption as well as go to the Big Ten and being able to get that done is just very exciting for us.”