The Michigan men’s lacrosse team, or “Team Five,” set the tone from the very beginning of its exhibition game against Marquette on Saturday. Within 10 seconds of the first period, junior attacker Ian King smashed a shot into the top-right corner of the net, and the Oosterbaan crowd erupted into a series of “Ohhhhs!”
After weeks of practice against their own teammates, the Wolverines were eager to battle a different opponent in their only tune-up before the regular season begins.
“It feels awesome,” said junior midfielder Mikie Schlosser. “When you get back from break, it’s kind of hard because you spend two or three weeks with everyone just beating each other up on the same team … It’s really nice to actually play someone else and go out there and compete.”
For two teams that have just recently established varsity programs, the competition was fierce. Against each other, they prepared to face stiff competition down the road. Though the Wolverines maintained a lead the entire game, both teams traded goals multiple times and a high level of intensity was played in the midfield.
Ribs were smashed, sticks were knocked out of players’ hands, cleats came off mid-play and players dove on the turf. Ultimately, Michigan’s strong defensive end and patient, yet aggressive offense secured its 15-13 win against the Golden Eagles.
Junior goalie Gerald Logan credited the defense for its hard work throughout the game.
“That was probably one of the best games that (the defense has) played,” Logan said. “We kind of got a little complacent at the end. Everyone’s still learning their roles, but everyone did really, really well.”
Regardless of the score, Michigan coach John Paul doesn’t measure the team’s success by its wins and losses.
“This team believes that they can do some special things,” Paul said. “Our goals are higher than they have been, but really we’re not going to get anything done unless we keep our goal just to keep getting better every day. It has to be that way.”
Paul is confident in his team’s ability to improve as the season goes on, especially heading into next week’s regular-season opener at No. 1 North Carolina.
The talent on the roster is beyond doubt, but above all, “Team Five” is characterized by its undeniable sense of camaraderie. Though 49 players are on the roster, it’s easy to see they work as a unit on and off the field.
“We’re just a very close-knit group,” said senior attacker Kyle Jackson. “We do everything together. We have morning practices, morning lifts … We go to class together, we eat together.
“In the past, we’ve had guys who’ve kinda been club lacrosse players, they didn’t come here necessarily to play Division I lacrosse. So this is kind of our first year that we have everyone who came to play Division I and wanted to be recruited to be here to play lacrosse.”
Expectations aside, “Team Five” is focusing on its goal of getting better each practice and game, with that goal in mind, the Wolverines will head into the season prepared.