Last two games to prepare men’s lacrosse for ECAC tournament

James Coller/Daily
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By Minh Doan, Daily Sports Writer
Published April 17, 2014

Now that games in the Eastern College Athletic Conference have finished, the Michigan men’s lacrosse team has achieved its mission by earning a spot in the postseason tournament.

So, what’s next?

The next two weekends, the Wolverines will close out the regular season with games at home against No. 13 Yale and Robert Morris.

With the bulk of its schedule already in the books, the mindset now changes for Michigan (1-3 ECAC, 4-9 overall). So maybe the better question is, what’s left to play for?

“These games really give us the opportunity to redevelop our game going into the (ECAC) Tournament,” said junior attacker Will Meter.

With the ECAC Tournament just two weeks away, the Wolverines are looking to improve all facets of their game.

And with each opponent comes a different challenge.

Yale (3-2 Ivy League, 7-3) comes into Saturday’s contest riding a three-game winning streak after defeating Providence, Dartmouth and Brown. The Bulldogs currently rank ninth in the nation in scoring defense, giving up an average of 8.10 goals per game.

But the most important aspect that Yale brings to the table is its similarity to No. 17 Fairfield, which ranks 15th in scoring defense. The Stags are an ECAC foe that Michigan may see in the postseason tournament.

“They’re a smart team, they don’t make a lot of mistakes,” said Michigan coach John Paul. “They don’t do a lot flashy, kind of similar to Fairfield. They’re a very savvy, skilled team, and when we play teams like that, the key for us is to minimize mistakes.”

Given their reputation, the Bulldogs also present a separate mental challenge for the Wolverines.

Michigan has been up and down against ranked teams this season. Most recently, it had a narrow one-goal loss to the Fairfield, in addition to an overtime loss to No. 13 Cornell earlier this year. But the Wolverines have also been blown out by No. 5 Johns Hopkins and No. 7 Maryland.

“We’ve had mixed performances against teams like this, but we’ve had our moments,” Paul said. “Now, the next step for this program is to win one of these games.”

While Yale brings an all-around polished game to the Big House, Robert Morris (2-3 Northeast Conference, 5-7) brings a fast-paced, transition offense, similar to other teams that Michigan will see in the postseason.

“(The Colonials’) transition offense is going to help us because some of the teams in the tournament like to play fast,” Meter said. “The game is going to be a good tune up for us a week before the tournament.”

But with the Wolverines on a five-game losing streak, Paul realizes the importance of winning to boost morale and confidence heading into the postseason.

“It’s important regardless that we play well, but winning is winning,” Paul said. “It’s very hard to win in Division I lacrosse, so you always have to feel very fortunate when you do win a game, no matter what team you are.”