Though it was just an exhibition, Sunday marked the start of the 2020 season for the Michigan women’s lacrosse team.

Coach Hannah Nielsen called Sunday’s exhibition contest against Notre Dame a “dress rehearsal” for the start of official season games in February.

“We obviously want to treat it like a real game, and play to win,” Nielsen said. “But at the end of the day, you could also breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that if the result didn’t go the way we wanted, it was more gameplay just to get feedback and see where we need to emerge.”

While the score was even for most of the contest, eventually the Wolverines pulled ahead and won with their ninth goal during the second half, defeating the Fighting Irish, 9-8. Senior midfielder and team captain Chandler Kirby was the leading scorer of the match with 4 goals.

Another player to watch this season is senior midfielder and team captain Molly Garrett, who scored one goal during the contest. Last season, Garrett was a foundational member of the team as one of four players who started every game. Garrett was one of 10 Big Ten players to be named a preseason All-American by Inside Lacrosse and was the first Michigan player to be named to the Tewaaraton Watch List.

“She wants the team to go as far as it possibly can, and she’s willing to put the team on her back and do whatever it takes for us to get that,” Nielsen said. “I think the way that she leads by example and does the right thing, on and off the field, is her work ethic. She’s a true champion.” 

Last season was a historic one for the Wolverines, as they celebrated an all-time program best of 16 wins and made their first appearance in the NCAA tournament, where they fell in the second round. This will be Nielsen’s third season with the squad, and she is proud of the team’s competitive 2020 schedule, which includes eight teams that participated in the 2019 NCAA tournament.

“If we keep working hard, we’ll probably get to check off some goals that we’ve set. It’s a reference of where we think we can go.” 

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