Despite turning in one of its best performances of the season, the Michigan men’s lacrosse team is still winless.
The Wolverines (0-7) fell to Fairfield on Thursday evening in Connecticut, 10-8, in one of Michigan’s most competitive contests of the season. The Stags led 9-8 early in the fourth quarter before a goal with 11:40 left gave them the two-goal lead that they’d hold onto for the duration.
The Wolverines fell into a 4-1 hole with 7:34 remaining in the first quarter, but a goal from freshman attacker Peter Kraus early in the second evened the score at four. Fairfield, though, would score twice more before halftime and led 6-4 at the break.
In the first quarter, freshman defender Charlie Keady and freshman midfielder Brad Lott both recorded their first career assists. Keady’s came on sophomore attacker Will Meter’s goal with 1:56 remaining in the period, and seven seconds later, sophomore attacker David McCormack scored on a feed from Lott.
“Trying to play with these teams that have played together for so long is definitely tough,” McCormack said.
Michigan is in its first season as a full member of the East Coast Athletic Conference and its second season as a varsity team and faces the continual disadvantage of competing against teams with more established programs and more experienced players.
“(The other teams) are trying to get their shots in while they can,” McCormack said. “I think they know that Michigan is a program that’s going to be very good in the future. Every team plays their best game against us.
“It’s definitely a frustrating situation. I think it’s good for us to see that we can compete with some of the top teams in the country.”
Senior midfielder Thomas Paras tied the game on a goal with 4:54 remaining in the third quarter, assisted by freshman midfielder Mike Hernandez. The Stags took the lead a little more than a minute later, though, and never gave it back.
Michigan’s youth continued to be an issue for the team, but the coaching staff prefers to look on the brighter side of things.
“Nobody expects us to win, but we expect to win,” said Michigan coach John Paul. “We have some very good freshmen right now that are getting a lot of time.”
Kraus, a Connecticut native, scored two goals on the day for the Wolverines in a homecoming of sorts, and McCormack scored twice on four shots in the losing effort. Hernandez recorded two assists and scored once on four shots.
“Today was definitely a very positive note for us,” McCormack said. “There are some things that we have to improve on.”
The Wolverines failed to capitalize on winning 13 of 20 total faceoffs; the Stags still managed to outshoot Michigan 24-11 in the first half. Fairfield also turned the ball over 13 times, seven less than the Wolverines.
“(Winning the faceoffs) makes a big difference,” Paul said. “If you win more faceoffs, you’re going to get more ground balls.”
The ground-ball battles are a major consideration for Michigan. Despite playing well in the ground game, though, the Wolverines still struggled to capitalize.
“Sometimes we’re throwing the ball in the crease when there’s nothing really there,” McCormack said.
The battle for ground-balls was close, which, according to Paul, kept the game close through the fourth quarter. Though Fairfield won 36 of 66 ground balls, Paul was pleased with the effort.
“It’s something that we’re very focused on in practice,” Paul said. “We’re getting better at it.”
The Stags traded goals with Michigan early in the fourth quarter, setting up the Fairfield clincher with more than 11 minutes to play, which wrapped up a disappointing third ECAC game for the Wolverines.