Michigan falters in loss to Pennsylvania

Sunday, February 18, 2018 - 8:06pm

Alex Buckanavage notched a pair of goals in the loss.

Alex Buckanavage notched a pair of goals in the loss. Buy this photo
Prashanth Panicker/Daily

For the first three minutes, it looked like the game would be completely controlled by the Wolverines.

The Michigan men’s lacrosse team (2-1) faced No. 18 University of Pennsylvania (1-0) on the road and opened the game with a goal from senior midfielder PJ Bogle less than a minute and a half into the quarter. In the next minute and a half, the Wolverines notched goals from junior attackman Rocco Sutherland and freshman attackman Alex Buckanavage — all before the Quakers had a single offensive possession.

“We showed up with excitement and emotion,” said Michigan coach Kevin Conry. “We had to be the best Michigan we could be, and I thought we came out firing.”

But the Wolverines couldn’t hang onto their early control of the game as Pennsylvania settled into its first game of the season, beating Michigan 12-9. 

The hot start for the Wolverines was quickly cooled by a 3-0 scoring run for the Quakers over the next five minutes of play. Michigan then missed a chance to score on an extra man opportunity granted by a faceoff violation from Pennsylvania, though Buckanavage recorded his second goal of the game shortly after the Quakers returned to full strength.

With just under five minutes remaining in the first quarter, junior midfielder Decker Curran scored his first goal of the game and the final goal of the period for either team.

After the initial onslaught of goals, both teams seemed to settle into the game. Eleven minutes passed until freshman Kevin Mack broke the scoring drought. Mack’s goal would be the last of the half for the Wolverines, while Pennsylvania scored two more goals and took its first lead of the game with five minutes left in the half.

Michigan’s man-down defense faltered to begin the second half, giving up a goal after just 40 seconds of play. But the Wolverines’ man-up offense capitalized on the opportunity with Curran’s second goal of the game, off an assist from junior attackman Brent Noseworthy.

The Quakers quickly answered Curran’s score with a goal of their own, coming in transition after picking up a ground ball. Pennsylvania won the ensuing faceoff, but a shot was quickly saved by sophomore goalie Matt Trowbridge, returning possession to the Wolverines.

Curran notched his third goal of the game at the 6:36 mark of the third quarter, completing his second career hat trick and cutting Michigan’s deficit to just one point.

“When his hands are free and he’s able to shoot the ball, I don’t think there’s a better shooter in the country,” Conry said of Curran. “We were finally seeing some open looks from him, and he was able to can them.”

Mack scored his second goal of the game, the final of the day for the Wolverines, with 7:34 remaining in the game. The Quakers held onto a two-goal lead and added one final goal to cement the victory, despite Michigan’s fourth quarter opportunities.

The Wolverines had two extra man opportunities in the final minutes and were unable to convert the opportunities. Michigan scored on just one extra man opportunity, something it will seek to improve on in future matchups as well as learning from the loss as a whole.

“Every loss is a learning opportunity for us,” said Conry. “This is a great learning experience for our guys, and I’m excited about the next challenge ahead of us.”