Monumental wins rarely come early in the season, but for the Michigan men’s lacrosse team, a victory on Sunday gave the team a win over the highest-ranked opponent in program history.
The Wolverines (1-1) bounced back after a tough loss to North Carolina a week earlier. Michigan defeated Colgate (0-1) by a score of 9-8 in a physical, hard-fought battle, giving the Wolverines the confidence they need early in the season.
With just a two-goal lead heading into the final quarter, Michigan needed to stay tough to secure its first victory of the young season.
Once again, the Raiders came out firing, but a fourth goal by senior attackman Kyle Jackson gave the Wolverines a three-goal lead, which would prove to be insurmountable for Colgate. However, two goals late in the quarter gave the Raiders life again, only to lose their chance on a turnover with less than a minute remaining, allowing Michigan to run out the clock and pick up its first win of the season.
“It was obviously a great win for us,” Jackson said. “It’s the highest-ranked team we have ever beaten. It proves our program has come a long way. When shots are going in and everyone’s sticks are clicking, it’s nice to see.”
Michigan never trailed after jumping out to an early 3-0 lead, scoring all three goals within the first three minutes of play. Junior midfielder Mikie Schlosser sniped in a shot and got the team going with a goal, and just 30 seconds later, Jackson got in on the action and started what would be an outstanding day for himself.
After surrendering three early goals, the Raiders tried to mount a comeback, controlling offensive play for over four consecutive minutes, and put the ball in the net once. However, their efforts came up empty and they gave up a second goal to Jackson, who tricked the defender with a pump fake, giving him a clear shot at the goal.
“We needed confidence, and getting that going early injected us with some of that,” said Michigan coach John Paul. “Getting to an early lead like that helps the guys settle.”
After the first quarter, Michigan was up 4-1, but Colgate did not go down quietly. The Raiders put the pressure on the Wolverines’ defense early in the second and scored two quick goals, finding themselves down only one goal with a lot of game left to play. Colgate continued to play aggressively, and it took a gritty effort from Michigan to close out the second half.
“(We had) guts,” Paul said. “We had to hold on. We were giving them a lot of possessions. I thought our defense got tired a lot of times, and we kept giving the ball back to them. Offensively, we lost our poise a couple times and gave the ball back.”
But the Wolverines maintained their gritty effort and scored a goal with 10 seconds left, giving them a three-goal lead heading into halftime.
In the second half, however, Colgate came out aggressive. The Raiders attacked offensively and scored a quick goal, cutting the lead to two. Not only did Colgate’s offense show up ready to go in the second half, but its defense stepped up to the challenge as well.
The Raiders held the Wolverines to just four shots in the third frame, and would have headed into the fourth quarter down only one goal, but aggressive play from Jackson changed that. After Colgate missed a midfield shot in hopes of running out the clock, Michigan pushed the ball up the field with two quick passes to Jackson, who scored with 0.4 seconds left on the clock, giving the Wolverines a two-goal lead and himself a hat-trick.
“(Jackson’s) so explosive,” Paul said. “He’s swift and gets to the goal and adds a dimension on the left side we need.”