Facing their team and coaches with their families by their sides, the 11 seniors of the Michigan women’s lacrosse team stood pregame, in uniform, on their home turf, for the final time.
As the PA announced each player’s position, name and hometown, the Wolverines were recognized for a historic season that is far from over, and how the 11 women holding bouquets of maize flowers helped shape the program into what it is today.
And help shape the program, they did.
The eighth-ranked Wolverines put on a show for the crowd, defeating Rutgers, 12-8. This win helped secure Michigan’s first undefeated home season since the program’s inception in 2014.
Though they didn’t play a perfect game by any means, the Wolverines defeated the Scarlet Knights for the first time ever in the U-M Lacrosse Stadium, propelled by sophomore Caitlin Muir’s team-best five goals. Junior Lilly Grass broke the single-season record for assists behind her five on Saturday, and senior Mira Shane recorded her 100th save on the season and ended the game with 106.
Shane was challenged with a much more offensive-minded opponent on Saturday, forcing her to be much more alert and energized in the net at all times.
“I think it’s a mentality thing,” Shane said. “I think I stay busy in my mind, even though I may not be running around. I always try to stay connected with our offense. You might see me doing some sprints as (the offensive players) score. But that’s only for me – I kind of get energized by them scoring and us having these great opportunities. I think that’s how we stay in the zone as a defensive unit.”
Rutgers took 16 shots on goal in Saturday’s game, something Shane isn’t unfamiliar with. Facing so many shots forces her to stay alert, providing an energy that transfers to the rest of the team.
“I think it just forces me and energizes me to pick up the level of my game,” Shane said. “If I’m seeing more shots, I definitely always want to come out with a win, and, you know, give my team the best performance that I can. … just having a great Senior Day was really important to me, for this being our last regular season home game.”
As Shane, the starting goalkeeper for the 2018-2019 season, reflected on her four years in the maize and blue, she couldn’t help but get emotional. With all of the changes Michigan women’s lacrosse has gone through, from being a sub-.500 performance in Shane’s freshman year to nationally-ranked program, she has been a key factor in Michigan’s record-breaking seasons.
“I think it was my goal today to play with gratitude and heart,” Shane said. “It’s been a heck of a ride for four years, playing a lot of different games with a lot of different people. And today to just play at home with my parents by my side during this Senior Day celebration with wonderful teammates and coaches that I’ve had all season.
“I don’t think it gets much better than that. And so I was just really thankful to have a great win today, and then to keep it going for the rest of our season. As you said – it’s not over, we’re not done, and this team is definitely going places.”