It was a tale of two halves for the Michigan women’s lacrosse team on Friday. In a gritty battle with Canisius, the Wolverines came out on top, 13-11, giving Michigan its third victory of the season.
With 10 minutes left in the first half, it looked as if Canisius (0-1) was en route to a sure-handed victory over the Wolverines. After scoring less than two minutes into the game, Michigan (3-2) lost the fire with which it started the game and fell into an 8-4 deficit.
During the 20-minute stretch in which Canisius mounted a four-goal lead, the Golden Griffins took advantage of Wolverine penalties and scored on two of the three penalties committed by Michigan.
The impressive offensive play from the Golden Griffins forced the Wolverines to pull junior goalie Allison Silber and replace her with freshman Mira Shane. With a new goalie in, and a four-point deficit, Michigan woke up and brought back the energy it showed at the beginning of the game.
The Wolverines played strong defense for a five-minute scoreless stretch, creating more offensive opportunities for the Wolverines. Michigan scored its first goal in over seven minutes, cutting the Canisius lead to three with five minutes left in the half. Not only did this goal give the offense the momentum it needed, but it gave junior attacker Tess Korten a first-half hat trick as she bounced the pall past the leg of the goalie.
“After we figured out what the defense was doing, we came out with a game plan,” Korten said. “As soon as our offense starting coming through and making space for the drives we were able to get the 1-v-1s that create more space and motion.”
Just over a minute later, the Wolverines scored again when junior attacker Natalie Carti scored a free position goal, her second of the game. With just four and a half minutes left in the half and the score now 8-6 in Canisius’ favor, Michigan was back where it needed to be.
The Wolverines continued to play aggressive defense, not letting the Golden Griffins move around on offense like they were earlier in the half. However, Michigan suffered a set back with just over a minute left in the half when Korti received a yellow card penalty for a check to the head. Canisius took advantage of the late penalty, and Golden Griffins’ midfielder Erica Evans sniped in a goal with just 23.5 seconds left, her third of the game and ninth of the half for Canisius.
Down three at half, the Wolverines faced an uphill battle after the break. Just as it did at the beginning of the game, Michigan played aggressively at the outset of the half, and junior midfielder Kim Coughlan sniped a goal past the leg of a defender to make the score 9-7 just 1:25 into the frame.
Evans continued to give the Wolverines trouble, as she responded with two goals within one minute of each other, rebuilding the Golden Griffins’ lead to four. But Michigan fought back again.
“We made different adjustments on Evans,” said Michigan coach Jennifer Ulehla. “She was really killing us, we needed to contain her and I think we did more in the second half.”
Coughlan gave the Wolverines offense life and scored two quick goals to deficit back down to two. Then, junior midfielder Lauren Oberlander got in on the scoring action with a goal, making it was anyone’s game to win.
Unlike earlier in the game, Michigan was able to ward off a potential comeback and showed impressive offensive play. Korten, who had stayed quiet since her first half hat trick, sniped in two quick goals, giving the Wolverines their first lead since the early 1-0 score.
“They were running a zone and we weren’t used to it,” Ulehla said. “It got us out of sync. I think I got them to calm down and just work the ball to find the open player.”
Now with a one-goal lead and slightly under nine minutes to play, Michigan continued the strong defensive effort it displayed throughout the half. The Wolverines then took advantage of a Golden Griffin penalty to help pad the lead with 8 minutes to play. The goal capped off a 6-0 run by the Wolverines.
Canisius showed life late in the half, but the Michigan defense proved too much and went on to victory, 13-11.
“This team does a great job of going with the punches and dealing with the ups and downs,” said freshman goalie Mira Shane. “It was awesome we could get the (win) today.”