Down by one with 24 seconds left in the game, the Michigan men’s lacrosse team called a timeout. The Wolverines had possession, and all they needed was to hit the net to break a 7-7 tie and send the game to overtime.
The sideline was on fire, jumping up and down — more from excitement than from the desire to stay warm — as snow fell in the Big House at the Big Ten season opener Saturday. Play resumed after the whistle and the ball found its way to senior attacker Peter Kraus. He ripped a shot as the anxious crowd watched, but it flew past the top of the net.
The clock ran out, and with it went the Wolverines’ chance of beating a ranked opponent for the first time in history. Instead, Michigan stood still as the Maryland sideline rushed the field to celebrate the 8-7 win.
“We ran a play in that last set, and we got exactly the look we wanted. Peter Kraus was open,” said Michigan coach John Paul. “Peter’s been shooting really well, had that shot and just unfortunately couldn’t hit it, but we got the look we wanted.”
Though the Wolverines took a tough one-goal loss for the third game in a row, they were a force to be reckoned with against the fifth-ranked Terrapins.
Missing from the starting roster due to injury were two of Michigan’s top attackers, Kyle Jackson and Ian King, so senior attacker Kraus felt some pressure to step up offensively in their stead. With a hat trick, he delivered.
Maryland scored first, but Michigan dominated the first half of the game. The Wolverines’ fierce offense kept the Terrapins scoreless for the rest of the period. Kraus, sophomore midfielder Sean McCanna and senior midfielder Mike Hernandez all hit the net to take a shocking 3-1 lead.
The Wolverines were patient with their offense — working for the right looks, not the first looks.
“We didn’t really preach maintaining possession,” Paul said. “We preached attacking. We just preached smart shots.”
Dumbfounded and down by two, the Terrapins were determined to redeem themselves at the start of the second quarter. They managed to steal some momentum with two goals, tying the game 3-3 with 10 minutes left in the half.
Michigan answered with another goal from Kraus. Senior Brad Lott’s work on faceoffs combined with impressive saves by goaltender Gerald Logan allowed the Wolverines to maintain a lead for the rest of the half.
“We weren’t trying to force anything,” Kraus said. “Maryland does a very good job of holding the ball and holding possession, so we really wanted to get the right shot, smart shot and capitalize on those possessions.”
The competition was palpable as sticks flew in the air, players dove on the turf for ground balls and checks were thrown left and right. Maryland fought to get through the Michigan defense, but it held solid.
Maryland’s frustration turned into fuel at the start of the third quarter. Within two minutes, the Terrapins scored two goals to take back the lead. Just minutes later, they grabbed another goal, and the Wolverines scrambled to regain control. Michigan kept shooting, and shot after shot wasn’t going in. With six minutes left in the quarter, freshman Decker Curran broke the streak, face-dodging three Maryland defenders for a top-shelf shot.
For the rest of the quarter, the Terrapins’ defense held off Michigan possessions and kept 6-5 lead.
The final quarter was a nail-biter, and competition became fiercer as time began running out. Shortly after Kraus’ third goal tied the game at six, Maryland scooped the ball out of Logan’s net for a fluke goal that was taken away. Michigan’s defense lost composure and Maryland regained possession for a quick goal. McCanna then answered with his second goal of the game.
Neither team backed down, and with just under a minute left to play, Maryland midfielder Bryan Cole burned past the Wolverines and scored the last goal of the game.
“We know we have the talent to compete with Big Ten teams like Maryland and (Johns Hopkins),” Kraus said. “We’ve been expecting close games like this and expecting to win, so it’s pretty tough when it comes to one goal short. … We’re definitely going to move forward from this one, throw it in the back of our minds as motivation for next week.”
The loss against Maryland has put the Wolverines on a four-game losing streak that they are determined to break against Rutgers this week.
“Our guys are hungry,” Paul said. “They understand we’ve lost before this game, and we’ve lost three games by a total of four goals. That’s how tight that season can swing.”