For two periods on Saturday, the Michigan men’s lacrosse team was dominant, outscoring Pennsylvania by a margin of nine goals to four. Unfortunately for the Wolverines, though, the Quakers owned the pace for the other half of the game.
“We kind of just ran out of time,” said Michigan coach John Paul after Michigan (1-2 overall) fell to the Quakers, 12-10, in Philadelphia.
With just a minute of playing time completed, Penn scored the opening goal. Michigan responded quickly, with junior attacker Ian King scoring only two minutes later to tie the game at 1-1. A second Quaker goal capped off a relatively uneventful period, giving Penn a 2-1 lead heading into the second quarter.
From there, the runs began.
Two quick Quaker goals gave the team an even bigger lead. With momentum building, it seemed like the Wolverines would be in trouble. Instead, King was able to break free from both the momentum and the Penn defense to score an unassisted goal and narrow the lead to 4-2. Only a minute later, senior attacker Kyle Jackson gave Michigan some more life with another goal to further narrow the lead to only one.
The rest of the half was back and forth, until Jackson was able to score the tying goal and even the game at four. This time, the Wolverines were the team on a run.
With the game tied, the third period looked to be evenly matched. However, only one team really came out to play.
“I think 6-on-6, defensively, we did a pretty good job today, once we got settled,” Paul said. “We cleared the ball pretty well today against one of the better riding teams in the country, so there are certainly some things we did well, just not quite enough.”
Penn began the third-period trouncing in just 22 seconds to take a 5-4 lead. Michigan had a few chances in the offensive zone, but Penn’s attack remained strong, and just two minutes later the Quakers had improved their lead to 6-4. From there, Penn could not be stopped, and the team rode its momentum to four more goals. With the third period over, the Quakers had scored six unanswered and grabbed a 10-4 lead.
“It’s a game of runs,” Paul said. “They are a team that can go on these 10-minute spurts where they’re getting up and down the field, and they can make you pay for mistakes. We made a few too many mistakes there in the third quarter … and Penn capitalized on those.”
Still, though, the game wasn’t over, and with a new period came new life for the Wolverines.
Jackson tried to get things going for Michigan early on in the fourth period with a goal just 19 seconds in. His efforts were futile, as Penn responded 20 seconds later to move the margin back to six goals.
Freshman attacker Brent Noseworthy then tried to restart a comeback, scoring just 15 seconds after the Penn goal to cut the lead down to five. His efforts, too, were insufficient. The Quakers responded a few minutes later to push their lead back to six goals.
“One (weakness) is our transition from offense to defense,” Paul said. “We need to be better at matching up when offensive middies are getting back in the hole.”
With time running low, and a loss seeming more and more eminent, senior midfielder Mike Hernandez began one final push — and one final run — for the Wolverines. Hernandez broke a three-minute period of back-and-forth play to cut the lead back down to five goals. Half a minute later, senior attacker Peter Kraus continued the effort, cutting the lead to 12-8 with his goal.
Four minutes later, Kraus found the back of the net again, cutting the lead down to three. The Michigan comeback train was picking up steam.
With 90 seconds remaining, and the Wolverines desperate to score, King found the back of the net for the third time this game, cutting the lead down to 12-10. Michigan frantically tried to score twice more in the closing seconds, but to no avail.
The comeback was valiant, but unfortunately for the Wolverines, it was just too little too late.