Though trending upward, Michigan loses the Battle

Sunday, April 16, 2017 - 6:25pm

Sophomore midfielder Decker Curran recorded a career-high four goals against the Buckeyes, but it wasn't enough for victory.

Sophomore midfielder Decker Curran recorded a career-high four goals against the Buckeyes, but it wasn't enough for victory. Buy this photo
Sinduja Kilaru/Daily

In the Battle of the Big House, Ohio State showed why it is a top-ten team in the country. 

On Saturday afternoon in front of a record crowd of 18,588, the Michigan men’s lacrosse team (0-3 Big Ten, 8-4 overall) couldn’t contain its rival’s elite offense in an 18-7 loss to the ninth-ranked Buckeyes (2-1, 11-2).

That crowd ­– a mix of spring football game attendees and newfound hype for the lacrosse team ­­– saw an inexperienced team, but also evidence of the strides the team has taken in its sixth varsity season.

With one game left in Big Ten play, the Wolverines have already reached a new season-high win total with eight, a season-high goals per game average at 10.50 and a season-high team assist total with 75. They also beat a ranked team for the first time in program history.

The Buckeyes, though, exposed how much more room Michigan has to grow. While the Wolverines have scored 58.2 percent of their shots on goal this season, against the Buckeyes, Michigan converted just 31.8 percent on 7-for-22 shooting.

Despite having more shots, committing fewer turnovers and fewer penalties, the Wolverines could not capitalize Saturday.

“It comes down to execution,” said Michigan coach John Paul. “They’re executing at such a high level right now, that’s a Final Four-level team you’re seeing out there. They turned the ball over a lot more, we cleared better. You take a look at these (stats) and you’d think, ‘Probably a pretty close game.’”

The face-off circle was one area where Michigan really struggled this weekend. On the season, the Wolverines are undefeated when controlling the draw. Ohio State, however, controlled the face-off circle, winning 22 of 29 Saturday. Of its seven wins, four directly followed goals for Michigan.

Despite the loss, the Wolverines still had some positive performances. Sophomore midfielder Decker Curran recorded a career-high four goals and this season, Michigan’s second, third, fourth and fifth point leaders are all sophomores, which bodes well for Michigan’s future.

With his four goals, Curran surpassed his season total from last year. As a freshman, Curran started eight games and led all freshmen in scoring. This season, Decker has tallied 13 goals and six assists, putting him in fifth place for overall scoring on the team despite playing in just 10 of 12 games.

“We know where we are and we know where we want to get to,” Paul said. “We know how much we’ve improved this year over years past, and we just have to have resolve, come back and have a good week of practice to get ready for (Johns) Hopkins.”

Against Johns Hopkins, the Wolverines will look to secure their first Big Ten victory since 2015, and build upon the potential they have shown all season.