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The electric attackman trio of freshman Ryan Cohen, sophomore Michael Boehm and junior Josh Zawada has combined for 167 points. With each being ranked in the top 25 in total individual points nationally, it would seem as though there would be little room left for other offensive production.

Yet, each week, the Wolverines showcase a new piece of their immense offensive depth. Last week against Maryland, it was Isaac Aronson’s hat trick. Before that, it was junior midfielder Jake Bonomi’s timely two goals against Johns Hopkins. And stretching all the way back to Michigan’s last win at Delaware — which may seem like an eternity ago for a Wolverine team in the midst of a five game skid — freshman midfielder Aidan Mulholland chipped in three points during the bout.

On Friday, it was sophomore short-stick midfielder Justin Brown’s turn. Coming off the bench, Brown scored five goals in limited action, turning himself from a substitution piece to an integral offensive asset in the process. As the Michigan offense sputtered, Brown was an X-factor.

“We were expecting that,” Michigan coach Kevin Conry said. “He had a great week of practice. We knew coming off the Maryland game that his ability to separate and free his hands was something that we were waiting for.”

However, if the coaching staff saw it coming, they have been coy. Coming into Friday, Brown had four total goals on the season and he still has yet to start a game. Even in matches against Notre Dame and Harvard, where the Wolverines failed to reach double digit scoring, Brown sat.

But as Michigan found itself in a dry spurt, Conry brought in his X-factor. A former three-star wide receiver in high school, Brown was a dominant presence. Normally a situational substitution that brings more of an offensive presence than a long-stick midfielder, Brown scored both of the Wolverines goals in the first half.

“In the Big Ten they key on you,” Conry said. “So we really need guys to step up and really capitalize on all the attention (Zawada) is getting. So that’s why, for Justin, it was really great to see him pop out and make a couple extra plays.”

Those plays came in crunch time. After seeing the field for less than half of the first two quarters, Brown took over in the second half, logging three goals and showcasing his athleticism. Brown looked like a human joystick, effortlessly gliding past defenders and taking advantage of one-on-one matchups against short-stick defenders. 

As the fourth quarter waned, Brown’s confidence ballooned, he was continuously looking for the ball, and he scored another two goals with seven minutes to go. Showcasing his elite elusiveness coupled with pinpoint accuracy, Brown twitched left and right, netting both goals from thirty feet out. 

But what makes Brown stand out from previous offensive contributions is his efficiency. Despite his offensive outpouring, Brown took just six shots. A heavily off-ball player, Brown picks his spot and guns it. In limited action, his presence is undeniable.

“He came alive,” Conry said. “He came alive tonight. … We’ve been waiting for it to all click, and I think tonight is the beginning of a really bright future for the kid.”

For that future to come though, Brown needs to find his way onto the field more consistently. And whether that happens — or not — is an X-factor.