The women’s club lacrosse team jogged onto the field in the Oosterbaan Fieldhouse, giving each other high-fives with their sticks and yelling cheers of encouragement.
Twenty yards downfield, the Wisconsin players quietly walked to their positions.
No cheers. No exuding sense of confidence.
Judging by the difference in demeanor, the game was already over. No. 4 Michigan looked like it knew it was going to win, an attitude that was obvious all weekend against the powder-puff field in the Big Ten Tournament.
The Wolverines (8-2) trounced the Badgers 16-2 and outscored opponents 58-14 all weekend to easily take the tournament crown.
Michigan’s offensive production made freshman goalie Emmy Scheidt’s work in the net a bit more relaxing than usual. Wisconsin had just three shots on goal, largely because the Wolverines were too busy scoring and the Badgers didn’t have many possessions.
But the Wolverines are not invincible. Early in the season, Michigan lost by a goal to both No. 2 Cal Poly and No. 3 Colorado.
“Personally, it’s tough to stay focused in games like these just because there’s not a lot of opportunity to help out,” Scheidt said. “We still work on things. It’s not just a cakewalk out there. We have to challenge ourselves.”
In 2007, Scheidt led Birmingham Seaholm High School to the team state championship in Michigan. Both Michigan coach Jen Dunbar and assistant coaches Ginny and Kasey Hughes coach at Seaholm in addition to their Wolverine club duties.
Dunbar’s high school gig helped her recruit for Michigan. When Scheidt decided to come to Michigan, her coach prodded the goalie to give the club team a shot.
“It was more of an encouragement,” Dunbar said. “ ‘Hey, do you hear the coaches are pretty cool? You should come out for the team.’ ”
But juggling two jobs also has its drawbacks.
“It’s tough,” Dunbar said about working both jobs. “You definitely have to work with scheduling concerns, both planning around games and when the practices start. It’s a long season.”
Despite the pressure of coaching two teams, Dunbar embraces the challenge and has come to appreciate the maturity and love for the game that her collegiate players possess.
The team’s maturity showed in its first game of the season against Division-III Adrian — one of just two varsity teams in the state.
The Wolverines knocked off the varsity squad 8-7 in a exhibition match.
“We think we can play against the top-level Division-III teams,” Dunbar said. “Being able to play against Adrian and beat Adrian, I think it legitimizes us a little more.”
Although the game didn’t count toward Michigan’s record, it meant everything for players who decided to give up the chance to play varsity when they came to Michigan.
“It’s an awesome thing for the student athletes to be able to play club sports because a majority of them wouldn’t be playing a Division-I sport,” Dunbar said. “And I wouldn’t be a coaching a Division-I team.”