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The Michigan men’s lacrosse team entered Tuesday with the opportunity to match the program’s best start to a season at 4-0 — a feat unattained since the 2017 season. The team hoped to come out of the game having made history.

The question, now, is what the new benchmark will be for the Wolverines.

Michigan (4-0 overall) defeated Canisius (1-1), 23-10, to give the Wolverines their fourth consecutive victory to begin the season. Their 23 goals set a new program record and underscored the team’s progress.

With high anticipation going into Tuesday’s bout, Michigan uncharacteristically struggled to set the tone.

Following freshman Ryan Cohen’s goal in the first minute of play, the Wolverines failed to capitalize on their early lead, conceding two straight goals to the Golden Griffins. 

As the defensive unit struggled to dissect the assertive Canisius attack in the first period, Michigan found itself out of sorts. 

“We were a little quick to slide at times which created a lot of offense for them,” Michigan coach Kevin Conry said about the defensive struggles in the first half. “We weren’t reading our rotations appropriately.”

The bright spot for the Wolverines in a mostly-forgettable period of play was an assist by junior Josh Zawada, making him the sixth player in school history to tally 100 points. Despite the historic accomplishment — and Zawada being the youngest player to reach this milestone — there was little celebration. 

“I give a lot of credit to Canisius,” Michigan coach Kevin Conry said. “They came out and they played really hard nosed and physical.”

Michigan focused on the bigger picture and began to flip the momentum.

Thanks to a strong ending to the period in which the Wolverines prevented the Golden Griffins from finding a suitable shot, they went into the second period of play on a high note. 

Holding a 4-3 lead, freshman Aidan Mulholland and sophomore Michael Boehm took initiative, combining for four goals and two assists in the second period. Boehm also forced two turnovers, both of which resulted in Michigan goals. 

“You try to get possessions back any way you possibly can,” Boehm said. “But that was me being able to be in good spots because a lot of my teammates were doing other great things.”

Led by Boehm’s leadership, the chemistry and selflessness that the Wolverines embody began to emerge.

“We’ve definitely been an unselfish group,” Boehm said. “That’s what helped us get to 20 goals, and helped us be successful. We have a lot of faith and belief in our teammates.”

Despite the strong play in the second period, which provided a 11-7 lead for the Wolverines, a turnover by Zawada led to a Canisus goal with ten seconds remaining left Michigan with a bad taste in their mouth going into halftime. 

“I was pretty pissed off about that,” Zawada said. “I told some of my teammates I (was) gonna come out firing in the third quarter.”

Zawada more than fulfilled that promise.

After allowing eight goals to the Golden Griffins in the first half, the Wolverines’ defensive unit stopped all but two attempts from their opposition in the final two periods of play. As the defense made adjustments and created a brick wall, the offense followed suit.

In the third period, Zawada recorded five goals and an assist, leading his team to a statement period with eight goals and exhibiting the team chemistry that differentiates this group of players.

“He’s very skilled, sees the field and understands the game so well,” Boehm said. “And when you pair that with an unselfishness that he has, that combination is something that you don’t see very often.”

After a lackluster start, the Michigan squad displayed its true capabilities and showed why this team appears to be like no other in the program’s history. 

On a day where the Wolverines broke both player and team milestones, they exhibited that teams can have strenuous patches. It’s Michigan’s resilience that gives it hope for the season to come.