Michigan overcomes inconsistent play to beat Louisville

Sunday, February 23, 2020 - 8:52pm

Junior attacker Caitlin Muir led Michigan with four assists in the win against Louisville

Junior attacker Caitlin Muir led Michigan with four assists in the win against Louisville Buy this photo
Alec Cohen/Daily

It was tied at 11 with under eight minutes to play. A nervous silence hung over the crowd, punctuated by the errant yells of anxious fans — a moment waiting for a big play.

That play came from sophomore midfielder Erin Garvey. A pass from junior midfielder Caitlin Muir found Garvey right in front of the crease, who then buried the ball in the bottom right corner of the net, taking a lead that would never be relinquished.

The No. 14 Michigan women’s lacrosse team (2-1) then finished the game out with a four-goal run to stave off Louisville (2-2) and take its second win of the season with a final score of 15-11.

The story of the game was the Wolverines’ fast start and strong finish. They commanded the first and last ten minutes of the game, although the middle was much less impressive. 

“Everything was going well,” Michigan coach Hannah Nielsen said. “The girls came out with a good mentality, shots were falling for us.” 

The scoring opened up with a powerful shot from senior midfielder Chandler Kirby in the 27th minute off an assist from senior attacker Lilly Grass. The Wolverines then used this moment as fuel, finding the back of the net four more times in the next six minutes.           

Then, the game completely shifted towards the Cardinals. They started racking up possession time and controlled the flow of the game.

The first Louisville goal was matched by a free position goal from sophomore midfielder Kaitlyn Mead. But then, the Cardinals offense caught fire and ended the first half by scoring five of the last six goals.

“I feel like we got a little too complacent,” Muir said. “We were kinda thinking that we had it in the bag, and we didn't.”

This continued in the second half as Michigan came out flat. With each Louisville chance the crowd in red gathered confidence and became increasingly louder, leaving their mark on the U-M Lacrosse Stadium. When a free position shot by sophomore Paige Richbourg knotted the game at seven, the Cardinals fans erupted.

Goals from Mead — off a free position shot — and sophomore attacker Claire Galvin restored Michigan’s lead and quieted the visiting fans.

The Cardinals responded less than two minutes later with a pair of quick goals to lock the game up at nine. 

This pattern repeated itself over the next 10 minutes.

At this point in the game, the two teams were going back and forth trying to gain an advantage. Every time an opportunity was missed, the pressure built tremendously.

That’s when Mead’s goal broke the tie and set the tone for the rest of the game. The Wolverines seemingly recaptured their form from the first 10 minutes.

“It wasn’t anything that I did, the players started to show up again,” Nielsen said. “I think they went out there and did the things honestly we were working on in practice all week. They were getting defensive stops, they were going hard offensively, and I think honestly shots started to go in.”

Muir particularly stood out during these stretches and finished the game with five assists and a goal.

“I love getting assists,” Muir said. “And this defense that they ran was really set up for me being able to get more assists than goals.”

When Muir was distributing the ball and setting up her teammates, the Wolverines looked much more cohesive and played as a unit. But, you could tell when she got off her rhythm the team stalled.

Michigan showed two different faces against Louisville and now, there’s just one question.

Which team are you going to get?