A slow start and a lack of opportunities led to the Michigan lacrosse team’s 10th loss of the season Saturday, falling to Delaware, 11-7. The Wolverines (1-10) played most of the game on the defensive end of the field against the Blue Hens (4-7).
Michigan won only one faceoff and picked up just 10 ground balls compared to Delaware’s 22 in the first half. The Wolverines’ inability to gain possession of the ball allowed the Blue Hens to attempt 24 shots in the first half. Michigan finished the game with 23 shots. Delaware was able to hold onto the ball for most of the game, taking an early lead that it built upon until the final whistle blew.
Trouble winning faceoffs, failing to collect ground balls and unnecessary turnovers were the main flaws the Wolverines displayed against the Blue Hens.
“We got killed on faceoffs in the first half today,” said Michigan coach John Paul. “That stuff adds up, and today with ground balls that really added up.”
The Wolverines had less possessions than they needed to create a successful attack, but they aren’t making any excuses for not producing more goals on Saturday.
“It is on (the attackmen) to get the offense going when we are lacking possessions,” said fifth-year senior attackman Trevor Yealy. “There is no excuse, regardless for how long the ball is on the defensive end, for not being ready on the offensive end.”
The Blue Hens struck twice in the first quarter before Yealy capitalized on a man-up opportunity after a Delaware penalty. The first quarter ended with Michigan trailing 3-1. The second quarter saw Delaware net three goals, but they were countered by freshman attackman David McCormack’s two goals and another from Yealy.
Coming out of halftime down 6-4, the Wolverines allowed two more Blue Hen goals before Yealy tallied another goal to make the score 8-5 at the end of the third quarter. Freshman defenseman Jack Eisenreich and fifth-year senior faceoff man Brian Greiner both found the back of the net late in the fourth quarter, but only after the Wolverines allowed three more Blue Hen goals.
Michigan’s lack of experience playing at the Division I level has been a plague, which again showed with its shortcomings against Delaware.
“We have a lot of freshmen playing on the field right now,” Paul said. “They are being asked to play at a very high level pretty early in their careers. No question, that (inexperience) is part of today’s loss.”
With the high amount of pressure put on his defense, Paul will look for his defensemen to take advantage of more opportunities to clear the ball from the Michigan zone in the future.
“The defense played a great game, other than they needed to do a better job on ground balls,” Paul said. “We needed to clear the ball better, and that is on the defense.”
Despite seeing more pressure than he’s accustomed to, freshman goalie Emil Weiss had a career-high 17 saves and gained his coaches’ praises for stopping 34 of the 45 shots Delaware tried to put past him.
“Emil played very well in cage today,” Paul said. “He did a great job with stopping the ball. Emil was huge for us today in keeping the game close.”
The loss was another tough one for Michigan, which hasn’t experienced very much success this season, but the team isn’t focused on what’s behind them. Instead, it’s focused on next Saturday’s game against Ohio State. The Buckeyes (5-6) will be playing lacrosse for the first time in Michigan Stadium, and the Wolverines are looking to give them a warm welcome. The event will be held after the Michigan football team’s spring game.
“We are really excited,” Paul said. “The setting is going to be incredible. It is something we have been talking about all year. I hope this will be a great opportunity for us to showcase this program as we build a new tradition.”