Down by one with less than two minutes to play, senior captain Chase Young knew what he had to do. He pivoted with the ball, drew two defenders to him and then flung it out to junior midfielder Brent Noseworthy for the game-tying goal.
“I saw that Nose’s defender was hedging toward me,” said Young. “So I snapped it to him and he was able to finish the ball.”
For a moment, it looked like the young Michigan program was about to take #7 Johns Hopkins (3-1 Big Ten, 9-3 overall), a school with nine national titles, to overtime. But after the Wolverines (0-4 Big Ten, 7-6 overall) were called for a penalty on the ensuing faceoff, the Blue Jays scored on the man-up advantage with just 31 seconds left to hand the Michigan men’s lacrosse team the 10-9 loss on Senior Day Saturday.
Johns Hopkins started the game with three consecutive goals, prompting the Wolverines and coach Kevin Conry to call an early timeout.
“I reminded them why we were out here,” said Conry. “It’s senior day. It’s a beautiful day for lacrosse.”
The Wolverines were able to battle back, evening the score at three a piece to close out the first quarter.
The two teams traded goals in the second quarter before the Blue Jays scored with just six seconds left in the first half to take the 5-4 lead into halftime.
Early in the third quarter, Johns Hopkins began to pull away. It scored two quick goals, extending its lead to three.
However, just like it did in the first quarter, Michigan put together a two-goal run of its own led by Noseworthy and junior Decker Curran, who found the back of the net after streaking down the sideline and cutting in towards the goal.
The fourth quarter followed much of the same in a game that featured four ties, but in the end the team with the last possession came out on top.
Despite the loss, the Wolverines played one of their most complete games all season. Michigan’s offense was fueled by a hat trick from freshman Kevin Mack and Noseworthy, who added four goals on a season-high thirteen shots.
Conry had high praise for his team.
“We competed. For us it’s about just showing up,” said Conry. “We were one quick possession away from jumping ahead and hopefully taking the win.”
On the defensive side, senior goalkeeper Tommy Heidt recorded twelve saves on the day, and was the main reason the Wolverines were able to keep it close. He showcased his flexibility with a series of acrobatic stops — diffusing a high-powered Blue Jays’ offense that had averaged over 13 goals per game coming into the contest.
Minutes after his last game in Ann Arbor, Heidt reflected on the friendships he’s made during his time at Michigan.
“Roommates, teammates, best friends … they [the seniors] encompass it all,” said Heidt. “We’ve been through a little bit of a journey since freshman year.”
Young, who assisted Noseworthy on the game-tying goal with one minute to play, added: “it’s surreal. I’m really appreciative of what this university has done for me and how far we’ve come.”
In his first season as the Wolverines’ head coach, Conry, the former Maryland defensive coordinator, has changed the culture day by day, and Michigan’s nine seniors were nothing but accepting of him in his rookie campaign.
“They’ve been unbelievable,” Conry said. “Change is hard . .. but they’ve been really positive about the whole thing. All nine of them have brought something different to the table.”
Part of this culture change has included an increase in the popularity of lacrosse at both the university and in the state of Michigan. The Wolverines even set an attendance record of 1,403 in their brand new U-M Lacrosse Stadium on Saturday.
“That’s what we’re turning out here now,” Conry said. “Lacrosse is very popular now in the state of Michigan and we’re the flagship school, so we wanted all the fans to come out and enjoy a really great lacrosse game.”
Although they are eliminated from competing in the four-team Big Ten tournament after challenging an East Coast powerhouse in Johns Hopkins to the final whistle, Michigan’s lacrosse program has come a long way since its inaugural season in 2012. And with four goals combined from freshmen Mack and Alex Buckanavage in Saturday’s game, the Wolverines have a lot to look forward to next season.
“You can just tell that this program is so close to making that Big Ten Tournament and making huge strides,” said Young.
Added Heidt: “I think this program is headed in a great direction.”