Despite an impressive defensive effort from the Michigan women’s lacrosse team, the Wolverines fell to the No. 14 Northwestern, 10-8.
Just five days removed from its first big ten win in program history, Michigan (1-1 Big Ten, 3-8 overall) looked flat-footed and disoriented from the first whistle. The Wildcats (1-0 Big Ten, 4-5 overall) scored the first two goals of the game, which left the Wolverines playing on their heels for the rest of the afternoon.
“Northwestern is a great team, but I have to be honest, I’m really disappointed,” said Michigan coach Jennifer Ulehla. “I just don’t think we played to our potential. We were slow off the bat, we didn’t move the ball very well. Our offense was not in sync the entire day. We should have been able to open up more opportunities and get some better shots so I’m disappointed in that.”
After falling behind 2-0, the Wolverines seemed to rely heavily on their seniors for the rest of the game. All 10 points were scored by seniors, and, following the theme of individual play, only two of the goals came off assists.
“We had really worked to get past this point but it felt like they were playing as individuals,” Ulehla said. “That was a good defense, but I feel like we could have moved faster, worked harder and been a little more confident.”
Despite a poor offensive performance, Michigan managed to go into the half tied, 3-3, thanks to fantastic defensive play spearheaded by sophomore goalie Mira Shane.
Shane, who repeatedly bailed her team out after facing three free-position shots, saved a career-high nine of 19 shots on the night for a save percentage of .474. Her season average is .429.
With time dwindling down in the first half, Northwestern earned a free-position shot. As players got into position, Shane spun her stick, tapped each post and proceeded to stuff the door-step shot, seemingly giving her teammates life.
After the save, the Wolverine bench appeared prepared to rally in the second half as they sprinted into the tunnel. However, the second half began much like the first, with the Wildcats scoring less than three minutes in to retake the lead.
“I thought we had a lot of energy, but I didn’t think we played very composed,” said Senior attacker Anna Shueler. “I think that is something we will look back on and be pretty frustrated with. Our offense didn’t really feel in-sync today for, honestly, both halves and I think that’s something we are going to look back on and work on for sure.”
As the half continued, Michigan’s play once again became chaotic and confused as they watched the game slowly slip away.
“This was a great opportunity to beat Northwestern,” Ulehla said. “I know we could have done it too, and done it by several goals. But we just never really got into sync.”