Wolverines Ride Pendino, Brueckner in Win over Detroit Mercy
As the final buzzer sounded, a fairly sizable crowd at U-M Lacrosse Stadium roared with approval as the Michigan women’s lacrosse team defeated Detroit Mercy 14-6 in a non-conference battle. The game was sloppy, and saw both teams called for a plethora of fouls in a contest that lacked any rhythm.
The Wolverines (0-1 Big Ten, 5-6 overall) started the game running out of the gate, scoring two goals in the first two minutes of the first half. Despite the dominant display, they struggled to completely take control of the contest. Nearly every time Michigan seemed poised to widen the gap, the underdog Titans (3-5 overall) used perplexing ball movement to tangle the Wolverines’ defense and keep the contest within two goals for the majority of the half.
However, in the final minutes of the first half, Michigan seized control of the game with shot attempts off of Detroit Mercy fouls. The Wolverines converted all three of their free position attempts, including a highlight play that saw fifth-year senior attacker Bianca Brueckner loft a pass to junior attacker Adriana Pendino, who was completely unmarked. Pendino launched a shot from point-blank range to give Michigan a 7-3 edge.
The junior, who notched her sixth hat trick of the season, scored two of her four goals on free-position shot attempts, including one that saw her drill a shot from outside of the circle for her third goal before intermission. It was another solid performance from Pendino, who has stepped up so far this year, serving as one of the most consistent performers on a team led by first-year coach Nielsen.
“She’s really improving every week,” Nielsen said. “She’s looking to improve her game week-to-week, trying to find new things that she can work on.”
While Pendino was unquestionably one of the game’s biggest stars, her fellow attacker, Bianca Brueckner, had equal importance in the game, notching four goals of her own in a breakout performance. Brueckner has always been a player that has shown flashes of high-level play throughout the years, but it was on full display Sunday. Nielsen commended her assertive performance, and also made a point to say how valuable Brueckner’s leadership has been for her squad.
In addition to excellent performances from their veterans, the Wolverines also saw their younger players star in the victory against the Titans. Sophomore attacker Lily Grass scored two goals, and sophomore midfielder Nadine Stewart and freshman midfielder Erin Daly tallied one each.
Nielsen was inspired by the game’s result. Riding momentum from the victory could be important for her team before it hosts perennial-powerhouse Maryland at home on Saturday.
“To come out of the weekend 1-1 instead of 0-2 is obviously great for my mentality, for their mentality,” Nielsen said.
Though it was not against a strong opponent, this win could indicate what Michigan is capable of as the season progresses.