Consistency the key to finding success for Michigan

Sunday, February 19, 2017 - 4:40pm

Michigan coach Jennifer Ulehla recognizes that her team has work to do in order to develop a winning culture.

Michigan coach Jennifer Ulehla recognizes that her team has work to do in order to develop a winning culture. Buy this photo
Zoey Holmstrom/Daily

For the first time in program history, the Michigan women’s lacrosse team (0-3) faced off against Notre Dame (4-1) in Ann Arbor. And though the Wolverines have aspirations of being a top team like the eighth-ranked Fighting Irish, the lopsided outcome — a 12-5 Notre Dame win — revealed Michigan’s most glaring flaw: inconsistency.

At the 10-minute mark of the first half, the Wolverines held a 3-2 lead after scoring three straight goals.

“We just came out confidently,” said Michigan coach Jennifer Ulehla. “We were taking care of the draw, which is the most important thing, and recognizing what kind of defense they were playing, and we knew exactly how to beat it.”

The Wolverines had brief stints where both the offense and defense were clicking, but they could not string together 60 minutes of consistent play. After scoring three straight goals against Notre Dame, Michigan was once again unable to maintain a high level of play on both ends of the field. A big stop on defense would lead to a turnover in transition, and a goal on offense would be countered by a goal from the Fighting Irish.

“We clearly have to work on our transition game,” Ulehla said, “Coming up with great saves and defensive turnovers then being able to get the ball up the field, especially when we start to get fatigued — which isn’t an excuse — so we gotta work on getting the ball up safely and staying composed offensively for 60 minutes.”

Its inconsistent play has haunted Michigan multiple times this season. In their season opener against Oregon, the Wolverines scored three straight goals to pull within one, but were unable to continue this level of play and eventually fell to the Ducks, 11-8. Despite Michigan’s troubles early this season, finding consistency is exactly what a young program like the Wolverines needs in order to create a winning culture.

“When we have those opportunities, we’ll actually finish in the future,” said senior attacker Allie Breitfeller. “I definitely think there is a lot of hope for our team, and once we start clicking all over the field and executing consistently, that’s when our team is gonna win.”

Once defensive stops are converted to goals on the offensive end and the brief high level of play Michigan has flashed early on in the season becomes a normalcy, the results may turn in its favor.