The Michigan men’s lacrosse team has already been having an impressive season, setting the program record for wins in its first eight games. But the Wolverines weren’t done yet. On Saturday in Ann Arbor, they pulled off their first win over a ranked opponent in program history, 13-12, over No. 10 Penn — a game that came down to the wire.
Michigan (7-1) had held a dominant lead for the majority of the game, but Penn (3-2) had come roaring back. The Quakers whittled away at what was once a six-point deficit, poised to send the game to overtime. After charging downfield late, Penn was threatening to score. It held possession at the top of the box, and a timeout was called with 35 seconds left on the clock.
“They had a lot of momentum going, they were winning faceoffs, we weren’t consistently getting stops in the second half the way we were in the first,” said Michigan coach John Paul. “So we said: ‘Look, this is the time. We need a stop.’ ”
The stakes could not have been higher for Michigan. This moment meant so much for the program. As one of three teams in the country to have six wins on the season, the Wolverines had the opportunity to become the first team to seven. They also stood poised to extend the team record for wins in a season. And importantly, for the first time in program’s short history, Michigan had the chance to beat a ranked team.
The teams took the field again, and the Wolverines were tested for an intense, hard-fought 35 seconds.
“The nerves and the adrenaline kicked in,” said junior goaltender Tommy Heidt. “It felt much longer than however many seconds it was.”
Despite the efforts of the Michigan defense, it could not force a turnover. The Quakers’ offense fired off three shots on net in those 35 seconds. Heidt faced down all three, coming up clutch to secure the game. The sideline erupted as time expired: the Wolverines had escaped with their first win over a ranked opponent.
“We’re gonna soak it in,” Heidt said. “It’s an unbelievable feeling.”
But Heidt was reluctant to credit anyone but the defense for those last few seconds.
“Our D has been giving me really good shots, saveable shots,” Heidt said. “They definitely gave me some confidence.”
The Wolverines are now positioned even further in uncharted territory, sitting at third place in the Big Ten, as well as the No. 14 defense in the country.
Michigan will go on to play five more ranked opponents as it closes out the regular season.
“We’re back to work,” Heidt said. “We want a season to remember, not just a game.”
Having already achieved a program record of seven wins, and a chance to beat another ranked opponent, this season might turn out to not only be the best in program history, but one worth remembering.