Despite golden moments, women's lacrosse falls to Golden Eagles in inaugural home game

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By Zach Shaw, Daily Sports Writer
Published March 1, 2014

Oosterbaan Field House was abuzz in the building normally reserved for practices. While the sun set over Michigan Stadium to the West, fans filed into the indoor facility to witness the inaugural home game of the school’s 27th varsity sport.

In the celebration of its first-ever home game, the Michigan women’s lacrosse team jumped out to a quick five-goal lead. But no sooner had the Wolverines grabbed the lead than the game turned into a nightmare.

Less than 30 seconds remained in the first half, and both teams began to slow down.

With the game tied at five, the two teams appeared ready to head into the half and reset the game. But as a Marquette player was pushed to the ground right in front of the Wolverine net, the Golden Eagles found an opportunity that they didn’t miss.

The goal gave Marquette a lead they would never relinquish en route to a 12-10 victory, enough to overcome five goals in 5:25 by Michigan.

“We showed glimpses of what this program can be in the future,” said Michigan coach Jennifer Ulehla. “It’s just that we have so much to learn about playing on a consistent basis.”

Those glimpses came early in the first half, beginning with freshman goalie Allison Silber’s first of 10 saves on the night on a quick shot. The Wolverines quickly maneuvered down the field, and seven passes later, freshman attacker Jess Angerman found the back of the net for her first goal of the season to give Michigan a 43 seconds in.

After Angerman scored her first collegiate goal, the young attacker was able to tack on three more, providing a consistent offensive threat for the balanced Wolverines.

“Jess was hungry really,” Ulehla said. “She’s come around a lot these last few weeks and she wants the ball and she’s working hard to get it and she’s hungry to finish it.”

Added Angerman: “Everything we’ve been working on in practice, all of our plays can center around specific people and we know who to look for in certain positions. Today happened to be a day where I was open and finding a lot of spaces, and my teammates were able to find me.”

Over the next 4:42, the Wolverines added four more goals to build a daunting 5-0 lead as it controlled the ball and staying on the right side of calls helped.

“Obviously we play with a lot of emotion,” Ulehla said. “Today we came out very fired up for this game which was evident in our 5-0 run. When we’re getting the draw and have possession like at the beginning of the game we were able to take it to them we had confidence and were moving the ball well.”

But goal-by-goal, Marquette mounted a comeback. As the first half drew to a close, it was the Wolverines who began making mental mistakes and playing lazy. A sloppy push gave the Golden Eagles the opportunity they needed to steal the lead with seconds remaining, and steal the momentum for good.

The second half was calmer, Michigan still lacked consistency to finish. A 3-1 Wolverine spurt to tie the game at nine five minutes in was quickly followed by three straight Marquette goals, all but securing the loss for Michigan.

“Marquette had to adjust and they pumped up the pressure,” Ulehla said. “We stopped getting draw control and ground balls and they started controlling possession more and we just never got it back. With a young team, if you don’t control it, it can start to get in your head and mistakes will happen.”

With Marquette in just its second-year, the game was likely the Wolverines best chance at victory this season.

Michigan will be the underdog in every game it plays this season, playing older, deeper and more experienced in every single game.

“It takes 60 minutes to play a game and win a game,” Ulehla said. “We fell back on our heels, which happens, especially to a young team.

“But just the fact that they’re upset about this loss shows that there’s a lot of heart in this team. We’re building a foundation here and we learned a lot from Villanova and we’re going to learn a tremendous amount from this (game). We just have to get smarter and better and play more composed.”