The Michigan men’s lacrosse team showed up to its Big Ten season-opener determined to pull off an upset against No. 5 Maryland. The Wolverines put together an impressive performance, but in the end they came up short and lost, 8-7.
Michigan (0-1 Big Ten, 3-6 overall) found itself in a tough position with its two leading offensive players out with injuries, so it turned to a younger starting lineup to battle the Terrapins (1-0, 7-2). The Wolverines started five freshmen and two seniors Saturday, compared to zero and four for Maryland, respectively
With a young squad on the field, Michigan focused its effort on utilizing a combination of freshman youth and senior experience to combat the strong Maryland team.
After falling behind 1-0 in the first quarter, the Wolverines turned to their seniors to get things going. Just over five minutes into the game, senior attacker Peter Kraus continued the aggressive play shown earlier by fellow senior Evan Glaser, and netted his first goal of the day to tie the game.
Senior faceoff specialist Brad Lott won the following faceoff to give Michigan another possession straight off the goal. Once again, the Wolverines turned to another senior in midfielder Mike Hernandez, who sniped in a shot to give Michigan a 2-1 lead.
Lott played a key role in the first quarter success for Michigan by securing three of the five faceoffs, two of which came directly after goals.
“I thought Brad Lott was a big part of our ability to be in the game today,” said Michigan coach John Paul. “Once we started winning faceoffs early, and once we had got some stops on defense, some guys started believing.”
After allowing two quick goals in the second quarter, the Wolverines fell back on their seniors once again. Hernandez and Kraus stepped up on offense, and Kraus found the back of the net for his second goal of the day, regaining the lead for Michigan early in the second quarter.
Freshman attacker Rocco Sutherland also gave the Wolverines an impressive offensive effort. After the team went up 4-3, Sutherland was determined to maintain possession by picking up ground balls off faceoffs and collecting missed shots behind the net, allowing Michigan to keep offensive possessions alive.
The Wolverines fell behind, 6-4, in the third quarter, but just as they did throughout the first half, the shorthanded Wolverines turned to the freshmen and seniors to stop the Terrapins from widening their lead. Kraus and Sutherland fired shot after shot, but it was freshman midfielder Decker Curran who scored the first goal of the quarter for Michigan.
“It’s so awesome to see so many guys step in like that,” Kraus said. “If one guy goes down, whoever it is, if it’s a freshman or senior, he’s got to step up and play his role. That’s exactly what they did today.”
In the fourth quarter, Kraus got back in on the action and netted his third goal of the day, tying the game at six.
“Luckily I was in the spot to get the shot off,” Kraus said. “(We) just kind of ran the offense correctly and that’s what happens.”
However, a late push by Maryland was too much for the Wolverines, and they fell short by only one goal. Though it was not the result they wanted, Paul was still proud of his team and the potential the freshmen showed, as well as the poise the seniors exhibited.
“We’ve been searching for the right guys, the right chemistry and the right execution, and it’s really just the next man up until we find the right group,” Paul added. “This group did a pretty commendable job.”