Despite positive signs, the No. 13 Michigan women’s lacrosse team (9-4 overall) couldn’t keep up with the strong No. 17 USC ( 8-2) offense on Sunday. A chance for the Wolverines to close the gap came in the fourth quarter, but the Wolverines ultimately fell to the Trojans, 14-10. Although it was not the team’s best performance, there were a number of small victories for the Wolverines.
Senior midfielder Erin Garvey had a strong performance in the first half, coming in strong off the bat, winning the draw control and scoring just 20 seconds into the game. She followed that up with an assist to Julia Schwabe, who caught the ball mid-air and scored without her feet touching the ground. The Wolverines had to without Garvey after she sustained an ankle injury in the second quarter, which is still in the process of being assessed.
This type of performance from Garvey is what Michigan coach Hannah Nielsen has come to expect.
“I think she’s a player that gives us so much in terms of between the 30s on the defensive end,” Nielsen said. “ She’s on our player-down defensive unit. She takes on a lot and she’s consistent and that’s what you want. I think you know what you’re gonna get.”
Nielsen expects to know more about Garvey’s injury in the next 24 hours and is hopeful that the senior will be able to finish out the season with the team.
Senior attacker Kaley Thompson was also a major contributor; scoring her second hat trick in as many games. This type of consistency will be key for the team’s success.
The game also marked a key milestone for graduate goalie Arielle Weissman who notched her 200th save. Despite this achievement, Weissman had only a .283 save percentage in the game, far below below her usual .500.
Sunday also gave backup goaltender and freshman Erin O’Grady had the opportunity to display her skills in the second half, with two great saves and only allowing four goals.
“She’s had a great year,” Nielsen said, “ and you know for a freshman to come in and be the backup spot, she’s been great. She’s been working hard all year.”
Next year after Weissman leaves Michigan will be looking for an able goalie to fill her spot. O’Grady’s minutes are important to gain the confidence and experience necessary to take on a larger role next year.
The fourth quarter presented an opportunity for the Wolverines to close the gap. This was their strongest quarter yet they were unable to get within four points of the Trojans.
With the game against Ohio State game coming up on Friday, it’s important for the Michigan to refocus so they are ready for the match. Their defense needs to be at the level that earned them their No. 3 defensive ranking and their top players need to be on their game. Nielsen hopes that the excitement about the rivalry will help bring the girls together and boost their confidence.
“We need to have a good week of practice so we feel better than we feel right now,” Nielsen said.
While Nielsen always speaks highly of her players, she hopes to see more consistency in performance from their best players, and especially from their defensive line which has been the backbone of the team.
“Individuals have to expect a little more of themselves, and we gotta get through this together” said Coach Nielsen.