Michigan fends off Air Force, secures historic best home start

Sunday, March 11, 2018 - 6:03pm

Chase Young notched his first career hat trick this past Friday.

Chase Young notched his first career hat trick this past Friday. Buy this photo
Cat Mykolajtchuk/Daily

It’s been a journey, but Chase Young is back on offense and finding his rhythm.

The senior was an offensive midfielder before coming to Ann Arbor. Then he switched to defense to fill a needed role on the Michigan men’s lacrosse team.

But two weeks ago, coach Kevin Conry switched Young back to the offense, and he ran with the opportunity. On Friday, he notched his first career hat trick in the Wolverines’ 14-9 victory over Air Force (1-5).

“He’s got pop,” Conry said of Young. “When you have a guy who can create, it makes everyone’s life easier. Chase is a work in progress, but we’re certainly pleased with what we’re seeing so far.”

Michigan (4-2) got off to a slow start in the matchup, surrendering three goals in the first quarter with nothing to show on offense.

Junior midfielder Brent Noseworthy opened the scoring for the Wolverines with an unassisted goal close to four minutes into the second quarter. Just over a minute later, freshman attackman Kevin Mack added an unassisted goal of his own to cut the deficit to one.

“It took a couple of right crosses for us to wake up and then we were able to start swinging back,” Conry said. “When you give a service academy an inch, they’re going to keep driving and digging and digging and digging. We knew that going into it, but they came out on fire.”

The Falcons responded with two more goals in quick succession to increase its lead back to three. With Noseworthy garnering attention from Air Force’s long-stick midfielder, Young saw a mismatch with a short-stick defender and capitalized for his first goal at the 4:21 mark of the second quarter.

Mack and Young each tacked on another goal, evening the score headed into the half.

“We definitely responded in the second quarter, it just seemed our tempo was a lot higher,” Young said. “Especially once we started getting the ball on offense, the whole time we were getting looks and they just started to fall in the second quarter.”

The Falcons’ shots, on the other hand, started falling less and less. Michigan’s defense tightened up the rest of the way and forced 12 total turnovers while allowing four goals in the second half. Junior defenseman Nick DeCaprio led the defensive effort, picking up three ground balls and causing three turnovers.

“This is our second game coming off slow,” DeCaprio said. “I think with Coach Conry as, like, our mentor on defense, we’re able to adjust and not make the same mistakes in the long run that we’re making in the first and second quarter.”

Young completed his hat trick with 3:24 remaining in the third quarter, dodging up the middle of the field on his way to goal.

Sophomore goalie Matt Trowbridge made a key save and senior midfielder Sean McCanna subsequently added a breakaway goal with just 28 seconds left in the quarter, ending the frame in a similar fashion to the second quarter, tied at eight goals apiece.

Noseworthy found twine for his second goal of the game early in the fourth quarter to give the Wolverines their first lead of the game. Junior midfielder Decker Curran quickly added another score to stretch the lead to two.

Air Force senior attackman Andrew Tien completed a hat trick at the 9:30 mark for the Falcons’ final goal of the game.

Michigan’s offense wasn’t finished yet, though, and the team added four goals in the final five minutes of the game. Mack earned his first career hat trick with an unassisted score, followed by goals from both Curran and freshman attackman Alex Buckanavage. Sophomore midfielder Avery Myers added one final score to ice the win with just 10 seconds remaining.

The victory marked the first time in the brief history of the program that the Wolverines have opened a season 4-0 at home. The offense headlined the highlight reel, but contributions from the defense show strength on both ends of the field, with a chance at the program’s best season yet.