It was like the flip of a switch. For one stretch, there would be five goals from both teams in a span of two minutes. The next, there would be scoring droughts that lasted nearly twice that amount of time.
The Michigan women’s lacrosse team (3-1) had to stay mentally focused to eventually come out on top, 15-11, over Louisville (2-2) in a sporadic game.
The Wolverines came out of the gate slinging, scoring five goals without an answer from the visiting Cardinals. That answer did come when Louisville scored five goals of their own, however, and it took a strong response from Michigan to eventually stave off the opposing attack.
“I feel like it was a game of many shifts,” junior attacker Caitlin Muir said. “When we don’t have momentum, it’s making sure everyone is on the same page and keeping good mentality. We knew we came out hot and just tried to shift back to that again.”
Muir led the team with four assists and added a goal to boot. A majority of those assists went to sophomore midfielder Katelyn Mead, who had a career-best four goals.
“I fed Katelyn Mead about seven times today, and she caught about all of them,” Muir said. “Even if (my teammates) don’t catch it or it’s a bad pass, I know I can trust them to have my back which makes it easier for me to throw it in there and gives me more confidence.”
After going up 5-0 in the early part of first half, Michigan only scored twice more before the next. Louisville netted six in the first 30 minutes to cut the lead to only one going into the break.
“I think we didn’t use the momentum that we had well enough in the first half,” Michigan coach Hannah Nielsen said. “You can’t afford to let good teams get back into games. At halftime, I stuck into them a little bit for it. It was basically just ‘Check yourself and start playing like the players that you are.’ ”
The Wolverines were also able to gain momentum through timeouts. Not only serving as a break from the game, Nielsen took the time to make sure her players were mentally in the right place.
“In those timeouts, they’re mainly used for reset moments if we need to take a deep breath,” Nielsen said. “I don’t think the X’s and O’s were the issue. It was mentality, mindset and basic fundamental skills.”
Michigan was able to capitalize on certain plays on defense and offense in the game to gain the momentum it needed. Early in the second half, the Wolverines took a charge on their end of the field and transitioned down for a score from Mead after two minutes of possessing the ball.
“Towards the middle of the game, we weren’t able to keep possession, and I think that was a key part of the second half of the game,” Mead said. “We really want to work on making less errors, especially just stick skills. I think possession was the biggest thing we were trying to do.”
Michigan also took advantage of opportunities at free-position shots, going six of seven, and took control at the end of the match offensively and defensively.
This time, Louisville didn’t have an answer. The final minutes of the game reflected the first few — the Wolverines were able to flip on the switch and put the game away.