Led by career day from Clay, Michigan overwhelms Canisius, 16-8

Tuesday, February 18, 2020 - 9:54pm

Attackman Bryce Clay tied a Michigan record with six goals in Tuesday's win.

Attackman Bryce Clay tied a Michigan record with six goals in Tuesday's win. Buy this photo
Alec Cohen/Daily

It took nearly the entire first quarter, but once Michigan’s offense clicked, there was no turning back. 

The Wolverines had mustered only two goals for a majority of the first quarter until they finally erupted for four in the final 80 seconds. Their hot start propelled them to a 16-goal outburst. Led by dominant performances from the attack line, the Michigan men’s lacrosse team (2-1) was able to cruise to its second victory of the year, throttling Canisius (0-3), 16-8.

Junior attackman Kevin Mack — who recorded a first quarter hat trick — ended with four goals on the day. Freshman attackman Josh Zawada has continued to excel early on in his career as he produced two goals and four assists. Zawada is now tied for the team lead in points with sophomore attackman Bryce Clay.

Clay, who boosted his season total to 13 points, had no problems finding the back of the cage either as he netted six goals. This performance not only set his career high, but matched the Michigan record for goals in a single game. 

Despite his successes, he has his eyes set on bigger things.

“It was pretty cool,” Clay said. “But I’m gonna focus on the team win.”

That focus was exactly what allowed the Wolverines to dictate every facet of the game. They were set up with a barrage of opportunities early on, largely due to their ferocity in the riding game. The Golden Griffins managed to clear only two of their six chances and were plagued by turnovers. 

“The ride really triggered our offense,” Michigan coach Kevin Conry said. “We weren’t clicking on all cylinders in the first quarter, and then a couple good rides were able to fuel the offense.”

Canisius was able to get on the board early in the second and cut the lead to 7-2 by a pair of goals by Mathi Boissonneault. This run was immediately put to rest by back-to-back goals by Zawada to Clay, giving the Wolverines a commanding 9-2 lead. 

They would extend the lead to 11-3 and head to the locker room in a comfortable position. One of the biggest factors behind their overwhelming first half was senior face-off specialist Matt Dellacroce. He won a remarkable nine of 10 at the center x and scooped up six groundballs before the break.

While Dellacroce was happy with those accomplishments, perhaps the most memorable one came in the first quarter when he buried his first career goal. 

“It’s incredible, it’s a long time coming,” Dellacroce said. “But, I just have to credit that to all the practice we’ve done.”

The face-off group has been instrumental in his success this season.

“We’re all super close,” Dellacroce said.”But when it comes down to it in practice, we’re probably one of the most competitive groups on the field.”

Michigan would tack on five more goals in the third quarter. The Zawada to Clay connection remained unstoppable and senior midfielder Christian Ford contributed a career-high two goals. 

By the start of the fourth, the Wolverines were in cruise control. Their 16-5 lead allowed Conry to incorporate some of his less experienced players. 

Canisius would outscore Michigan 3-0 in the final period, but the game had been long decided.

Even though the Wolverines were comfortable throughout, there is still room for growth.

“I just think playing for 60 full minutes,” Conry said. “Especially a young team, we have to keep the same intensity and the same tempo throughout an entire 60 minutes.”

This will be crucial for the Wolverines moving forward as the schedule ramps up. The team faces national powerhouses Yale and Notre Dame in the non-conference and will have to go through the gauntlet that is the Big Ten.

“Not letting up off the gas pedal,” Clay said. “Especially playing in the Big Ten, it’s gonna be a dogfight the entire game.”

Until then, Michigan has its eyes set on a date with Merrimack this Saturday. These early tests will serve as building blocks for the team and its young core.