Jackson tops leaderboard in 9-8 victory

Sunday, February 14, 2016 - 6:07pm

Kyle Jackson has scored four goals in each of Michigan's first two games this season.

Kyle Jackson has scored four goals in each of Michigan's first two games this season. Buy this photo
Sindu Kilaru/Daily

 

The Michigan men’s lacrosse team fought for a hard-earned win against Colgate (0-1) on Sunday, just barely slipping past the Raiders, 9-8.

The Wolverines (1-1) will be losing one of their key players when the season comes to a close. But until then, senior attackman Kyle Jackson continues to lead the offense.

Jackson, who started at midfield for three seasons, has already found success in his new role as an attackman — tallying eight goals in just two games. In the season opener against North Carolina, Jackson matched his career high of four goals, and did it once again in the matchup with Colgate.

Twenty seconds after junior midfielder Mikie Schlosser scored the first goal of the game, Jackson netted one of his own. By the end of the first quarter, Michigan led, 4-1, with Jackson scoring on two quick shots.

The Ontario, Canada, native is used to the toughness that accompanies the contact sport, so when a player on the opposing team initiated a quarrel by walking up to him and giving a slight push, Jackson used it as motivation.

“There was frustration on both ends,” Jackson said. “But I like a little bit of physical activity. It makes it a little more enjoyable for me.”

Throughout the game, Jackson fought hard for the ball and raced around the net in search of the perfect scoring opportunity. The 5-foot-9 attackman found himself scrambling among 6-foot defenders, which occasionally resulted in a few tough hits to the turf.

As the third quarter came to a close, Schlosser calmly cradled the ball down the field before realizing the clock had just 10 seconds left on it. At that point, he quickly cleared the ball down to the goal at the opposite end, where his teammates anxiously waited. Jackson, who was just a few feet away from the goal, stretched his stick out to catch the ball, and took a shot as he was falling to the ground — notching his third goal of the match.

Known by his coaches and teammates as “K.J.”, Jackson was listed as one of three Wolverines on the Big Ten Preseason Players to Watch list. His dominant performances thus far have made it hard to miss him on the field.

But Jackson isn’t focused on the statistics he achieves individually. Instead, what matters most to him is the growth of the team.

“Personal accomplishments don’t mean a whole lot to me,” Jackson said. “But as a team with a great win like this, that’s more than I could really ask for.”

Senior midfielder Mike Hernandez notched a goal of his own but took the time to give credit where it was due.

“We just let K.J. be K.J.,” Hernandez said. “He makes things happen for himself. He’s so versatile and good with the ball.”

Added Michigan coach John Paul: “(Jackson’s) so explosive. He’s got such an incredible stick and sense around the goal. It just adds a dimension in that lefty spot that we haven’t had.”

This win marks the first of its kind in program history, as the Wolverines have never defeated a ranked team. Jackson and his teammates are hopeful that this will be just one of many program-defining wins as the season unfolds.