Strong first half leads Michigan to 16-11 win over St. John's

Monday, March 2, 2020 - 3:38pm

Sophomore attackman Bryce Clay scored three goals in the first half of Michigan's win over St. John's.

Sophomore attackman Bryce Clay scored three goals in the first half of Michigan's win over St. John's. Buy this photo
File Photo/Daily

The first half was absolutely electric. Led by sophomore attackman Bryce Clay’s three goals, the Michigan’s men’s lacrosse team scored 11 times, jumping out to a lead it would never relinquish.

The Wolverines would go on to defeat the Red Storm, 16-11, on Saturday, jumping up to a 3-2 record. 

Michigan dominated the first half on both ends of the ball, holding the Red Storm to four goals and winning 9-of-17 faceoffs. 

“I think it started at the faceoffs,” Michigan coach Kevin Conry said. “We just had more possessions, and (when) we have more possessions and just follow the plan we’re pretty good.”

In addition to Clay’s three goals, junior attackman Kevin Mack, freshman attackman Josh Zawada, fifth-year senior attackman Rocco Sutherland, and junior midfielder Alex Buckanavage all scored two goals. 

“We were moving the ball. Our offense was popping,” Clay said. “My teammates made great plays.” 

The Wolverines, despite their performance in the first half, suffered from a serious slowdown in the second half, allowing St. Johns to score seven goals. In addition to their offensive wake up, the Red Storm won 9-of-14 faceoffs in the second half. 

“We didn’t do our job defensively. Giving up six goals in a quarter is inexcusable for us and we have to clean that up,” Conry said. “We have to come out of halftime much more dialed in and being ready to compete. Our guys struggled a little bit so they got some extra possessions.”

Michigan’s offense also suffered a slowdown, only scoring five more goals in the second half of the game and leaning on its first-half margin for the win. 

“We have to know how to play for a full four quarters especially when we’re up. I think at one point we were up by eight or nine goals,” Clay said. “That’s the point where we really need to kick it into gear and bury them so they can’t make a run back. 

“I think we took it off the gas pedal a little bit and it’s not acceptable.”

Despite their second-half woes, the Wolverines should be proud of their accomplishments. Mack has now scored at least one point in 31 consecutive games, and the team is averaging 13.8 goals per game, led by Clay, who has 16 goals on the season, along with Mack and Zawada, who each have 12 goals on the season. 

Zawada has been having a stellar season thus far as a freshman, leading the team with 11 assists and tying for the second-most goals on the team. 

“I let the game do it’s work and go through the whole flow of offense and it just comes to me,” Zawada said. “It’s a team effort, especially on offense when the ball is popping and I get an open opportunity and I just take advantage of that.”

Zawada and company will have to create and take advantage of as much opportunities as they can as they face No. 5 Yale next week.

 If all goes well, Michigan will have two strong halves instead of one.