The Michigan women’s lacrosse team has been searching for a signature win since the program’s conception four years ago. Saturday, the Wolverines had another opportunity to earn their first win over a ranked opponent against No. 1 Maryland.
Michigan would have to wait a little longer, though.
The Terrapins (2-0 Big Ten, 11-0 overall) jumped on the Wolverines early, scoring the first three goals of the game in under just eight minutes. Michigan coach Jennifer Ulehla called a timeout to regroup her team, and though the Wolverines answered with two goals in the next two minutes, they couldn’t keep up with Maryland, eventually losing, 20-7.
“Defensively, I just had to get in the message,” Ulehla said. “The message was we were just too scattered, and we needed to focus more on playing man-to-man — really bodying up, forcing them wide as we could and working with our goalie. We had too much switching going on, too much help happening when we didn’t really need to, and then we weren’t shifting back.
“… We actually came back, and I believe we scored two goals. I really felt like that could be a big growing point for us, but obviously in order to win a game you need a lot more of that.”
Michigan was outplayed in nearly every facet of the game, losing the shots total, 34-18, the turnover battle, 18-9, and committing 22 penalties to the Terrapins’ six.
The one category in which the Wolverines got the edge was in draw controls. Though Maryland is No. 12 nationally in draw controls per game, Michigan dominated that category Saturday, 18-11.
“We keep improving as a team,” said senior midfielder Kim Coughlan on winning the draw control battle. “(Senior midfielder) Anna Schueler has been doing awesome on finding the ball off the draws. I think today she beat her record and got 10 draws today.”
Throughout the season, the Wolverines have rotated their goaltenders somewhat regularly. Sophomore Mira Shane and redshirt freshman Alli Kothari have played in 11 games each, and have similar statistics to show for it.
Saturday, Shane got the nod in net and struggled, saving just eight of the 28 shots she faced on net. But despite her performance, Ulehla feels that Shane gives Michigan the best chance to win.
“Right now Mira is the more solid goalkeeper,” Ulehla said. “She’s just more consistent. We take a lot of shots in practice, and she’s the one really coming up with most of the saves. For the most part, with the amount of shots she saw (Saturday), she made some great saves. We could always use a few more, but I think defensively if we had stood a little bit stronger, she would have had a better opportunity.”
The Wolverines will return home Tuesday to take on Niagara before getting another opportunity to beat a ranked opponent, as they travel to face No. 20 Johns Hopkins next Saturday.
If Michigan is to get its first win against a ranked team, there are many areas in which it has to improve. But Ulehla believes the Wolverines can learn something from their loss to Maryland.
“Even when you watch Maryland on film, when you get them in person, they’re just incredibly explosive,” Ulehla said. “… Maryland has this push, a presence about themselves that we just haven’t grown into yet. We still have a young program. But all week, all year long, playing in the Big Ten and against Maryland, it’s like, ‘What do you have to lose?’ ”