Michigan lacrosse players rushed the field as the final seconds of a feverish final minute against No. 10 Penn ticked off the clock, collecting in a mosh-style celebration by the corner of the field. It was a moment of accomplishment for the Wolverines — and the yells and throwing of sticks displayed the gratification of the program’s first win over a ranked opponent.
Michigan (7-1) got its trademark victory, ousting the Quakers, 13-12, at Michigan Stadium.
Saturday was a scene that juxtaposed the actions of players of years’ past following a marquee game. The Wolverines have always been the wrong side of heartbreak, clawing but failing to solidify itself among the nation’s best since the program moved to the Division I level six years ago.
“As much as our record didn’t show it, I thought we were on the verge of this last year,” said Michigan coach John Paul. “These guys have done a really good job figuring out from those above them what works and what doesn’t work, and this shows that our culture is changing.”
The victory didn’t come without late drama, however.
Trailing by five at the end of the third period, Penn used two three-score runs, closing the deficit to 12-11 with 1:50 left in the game. The contest appeared over after senior midfielder Mikie Schlosser scored an open-net goal a minute later, but the Quakers’ unrelenting pressure cut the lead back to one, resulting in a feverish final 35 seconds.
But enter sophomore goaltender Tommy Heidt. Just as he did in the Wolverines’ victory against Furman last week, Heidt made crucial saves down the stretch to fend off the pressure. Penn — which kept possession for the last 42 ticks — launched three final shots just to be thwarted by the Michigan goalie.
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit nervous,” Schlosser said. “But when Tommy made that huge save with 15 seconds left, I was like, ‘they got this.’”
Heidt, who won the starting job in the preseason over two other goalies, has been one of the brightest spots for already the most accomplished team in program history.
The Wolverines’ control of the ball from the opening faceoff led to an early conversion, as junior midfielder PJ Bogle opened the scoring just over a minute into the game. Typical scorers were also crucial, as sophomore attacker Brent Noseworthy and senior attacker Ian King both notched hat tricks, while Schlosser scored twice.
Looking ahead, the Michigan schedule doesn’t get any easier. Following a matchup against UMBC in two weeks, the team will end the season with five ranked opponents.
But with that feeling of finally pulling through freshly marinated, those matchups shouldn’t come with the usual intimidation.
The past saw Wolverine players heartbroken, clutched over their knees after a fruitless effort — just as the Penn players were at the end of the historic Michigan victory. Saturday, though, saw those roles reversed.
“We’re going to soak it in — that’s the first time it’s happened,” Heidt said. “It’s an unbelievable feeling — a feeling nobody on this team has had since they’ve been here. But we’re going to work so that we can have a season to remember and not just a game.”