‘M’ offense explodes in scrimmage vs. Marquette

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By Minh Doan, Daily Sports Writer
Published February 1, 2014

The first scrimmage of any team’s season is more about the progress a team has made in the offseason rather than the final score of the game. It’s not meant to be a representation of how a season will go for a team.

But the Michigan men’s lacrosse team would like to think that the score is a foreshadowing of things to come.

Saturday afternoon, the Wolverines triumphed over Marquette, 18-9, at the Oosterbaan Field House in their first and only scrimmage of the season.

“We were really anxious to get back out there,” said redshirt senior midfielder Thomas Paras. “We know we’ve been putting in the work in practice and it was nice to see some results from it.”

After two consecutive one-win seasons, Michigan feels it’s finally ready to move forward, but it all starts with the offense.

Junior attacker Andrew Portnoy led the team with five goals while freshman attacker Ian King added three, which all came in the first quarter when the Wolverines scored six unanswered goals to start the game.

“We had a game plan in the way we wanted to run our offense this year,” Paras said. “When we get to 6-on-6, our offense started clicking. We were shooting really well to start off the game and got out to an early lead.”

King was a heralded recruit from Cincinnati and proved to everyone why he was a top-50 player in the nation coming out of high school. His powerful shots and strong running ability were evident in the game.

“Ian’s a pretty special player,” said Michigan coach John Paul. “We have really high hopes for him and we saw a little bit of it today.”

Also getting on the score sheet in the first quarter was last year’s leading scorer, sophomore midfielder Kyle Jackson, who scored the opening goal of the match.

But just as easily as Michigan took the lead, it lost it.

After a goal by sophomore midfielder Riley Kennedy put the Wolverines up 8-2, Marquette attacker Tyler Melnyk showed exactly regained form as the Golden Eagles’ leading scorer last season and took over the rest of the second quarter.

Melnyk scored the next four of five goals in the half to finish with six goals, and Marquette walked into the locker only down by one goal.

“We needed a reminder about some of the little things,” Paul said. “Clearing the ball is easy and we were perfect other than the second quarter. We just needed to stop making dumb mistakes.”

Added Paras: “(The seniors) stressed over and over again to eliminate the mental mistakes. In the second quarter we did some things that we haven’t practiced and aren’t common for our team and we stressed the need to start over fresh in the second half.”

While the Wolverine seniors refocused the team in the locker room at half, the effort didn’t materialize on the field in the first 10 minutes of the third quarter as Marquette took the lead with two goals while maintaining most of the possession.

The sloppy play didn’t end until junior attacker David McCormack scored two goals 10 seconds apart to put Michigan back on top for good.

Portnoy scored all five of his goals while Jackson, junior attacker Mike Francia, senior midfielder Doug Bryant and freshman attacker Andrew Roswell each added one to close out the scoring.

“We’re not the best at passing, we’re not the best at shooting,” Portnoy said. “But we were able to capitalize on our chances and have a good offensive efficiency.”

The game also marked freshman goaltender Robby Zonino’s first start for the Wolverines. He took over for injured sophomore netminder Gerald Logan who suffered a torn labrum and is out for the season.

While Michigan was happy with its performance, the Wolverines know a scrimmage result is not an indication of how its season will go — which will begin on Saturday.

But it is a step in the right direction.