In a matchup that featured one of the newest programs in Division-I lacrosse against one of the most historic, the Michigan lacrosse team fell to No. 4 Johns Hopkins, 17-8, on Saturday for its third-straight loss. The Wolverines (0-1 ECAC, 0-3 overall) faced off against the Blue Jays (3-0) for the first time in program history, and Johns Hopkins’ reputation was a hot topic on the Michigan sideline.
“There is incredible history here,” said Michigan coach John Paul. “As special as everything here is, it’s still just playing lacrosse.”
Although the Wolverines were open about their respect for Johns Hopkins, they weren’t intimidated by the stage. Michigan jumped out to a 1-0 lead when senior midfielder Thomas Paras assisted freshman midfielder Mike Hernandez’s first career goal.
“It was very special to get a goal against them,” Hernandez said. “I grew up watching them. Homewood Field (home to the Blue Jays) is such a historic place to play, it was surreal.”
Michigan’s momentum was short lived, especially after Paras limped off the field with a hamstring injury. The senior didn’t return to the game, and the Wolverines struggled to recover from the loss.
Moments later, Johns Hopkins forced a turnover and converted it into the tying goal. The Blue Jays added six more goals in the first quarter to take a 7-1 lead — a run that stemmed from the Wolverines’ inability to gain possession.
“Possession is everything,” Paul said. “That’s going to be a problem for us because we aren’t developed enough athletically and we’re very young.”
Long runs have haunted Michigan this season. In the opening game against Penn State, Michigan allowed a 9-2 run that turned a previously tied game into a 10-3 deficit. Last weekend, the Wolverines watched a 3-0 lead evaporate when Bellarmine scored six straight goals in the first half.
Johns Hopkins’ run was also aided by its dominance in the face-off game. The Blue Jays won the first 18 face-off battles and finished the game with a 25-4 advantage.
When the Wolverines did show signs of life, they were unable to build momentum due to quick goals by Johns Hopkins attackers. A great save by freshman goalie Gerald Logan to start the second quarter was answered with an even better hit when an opposing attacker dislodged the ball during a Michigan clear attempt — leading to a fast-break goal.
“We need to be able to put together some plays and gain some momentum,” said sophomore attacker Will Meter. “But we also have to fight through adversity and stop runs.”
Freshman midfielder Dan Kinek finally put an end to the 8-0 run with his first-career goal, just 1:39 into the second quarter. Johns Hopkins answered once again, though, scoring less than two minutes later to take an 11-3 lead into halftime.
Michigan played much tougher in the second half, answering the Blue Jays’ six goals with five of its own. Freshman attackers Kyle Jackson and Peter Kraus each scored twice in the second half for Michigan. Jackson leads the team this season with six goals through the first three games.
“In the first half, we were wondering what hit us,” Meter said. “I think we really showed our toughness because we were able to pull it together and play a really great second half. It gives us a lot of confidence going into our next couple of games.”
Despite the 17 Johns Hopkins goals, teammates were impressed with Logan — who finished the game with 12 saves — because of the toughness he showed by playing through a shoulder injury he sustained last week in the loss to the Knights.
Logan was visibly uncomfortable throughout the game, but continued to make saves even in the fourth quarter, when the outcome of the game was no longer in question.
“It was unbelievable,” Meter said. “I remember looking down at him after one goal and he was grimacing, but he popped right back up and made some huge saves.”
Added Hernandez: “He was grimacing after every shot, you could tell how much it hurt, but he wanted to play as soon as possible. I was surprised he played the whole game.”
Michigan’s schedule doesn’t get any easier Saturday, when it takes another shot at its first win against Army at SunLife Stadium in Miami.
“I’m looking forward to playing in the Orange Bowl,” Hernandez said. “Army is a great team as well, but I think we’ll give them a run for their money.”
The game will mark the third of a seven-game road stretch for the Wolverines.
“Playing so many road games is tough,” Meter said. “It hurts us at times, but we’ll get used to it and in the end it’s only going to make us tougher.”