The Michigan lacrosse team was unable to overcome its offensive woes and fell into huge deficits, as the team was unable to hang with top competition.

Michigan (0-4) headed to Denver to showcase their talents against Denver (1-1) and Air Force (1-2) at the Denver Face-Off Classic tournament, but fell convincingly in both games.

The Wolverines were defeated 17-5 in the first game played Saturday against No. 11 Denver. The Pioneers blitzed the Wolverines early, going up 2-0 in three minutes and ending the first quarter up 5-1. Michigan played better in the second quarter, playing Denver even, until two late goals by the Pioneers made it 9-3 at the half.

Every time Michigan attempted to rally, Denver would kill it with a flurry of goals. After the Wolverines’ leading scorer, sophomore midfielder Doug Bryant, scored his sixth goal of the season with eight minutes left in the third, Denver rolled off four straight goals to make it 15-4 to solidify the blowout. While Michigan had good stretches of play, they were not able to sustain it for very long.

“It’s about consistency, and executing at a high level, which we can do in short bursts, but putting it together for a significant amount of time is the challenge for us,” said Michigan coach John Paul.

In the second game, played Sunday, the Wolverines faced off against Air Force, and the lack of consistency doomed the Wolverines, as they were beaten 17-6. With two goals by Wolverine midfielder Willie Steenland, and another by Bryant, the Wolverines’ went up 3-0 early and looked poised to finally break through with a victory.

But their strong start was soon tempered as they let up yet another huge run as Air Force scored nine straight goals. Michigan scored two late goals before the half to keep it close at 9-5. But just like the Denver game, Air Force responded with a huge run to close the game.

In both the games, Michigan was outshot, won fewer face-offs, and was outscored in every single period except for one.

“We had a good game plan, we just didn’t execute as well as we would have liked to,” said senior midfielder Alex Vasileff.

Despite the results, there were bright spots for the young Wolverines. Vasileff made the all-tournament team with his three goals and one assist in the two games. Playing against top-flight competition offered invaluable experience for the new program, as they deal with the difficult transition from club to the more talented varsity level. Each game is a chance for improvement.

“Mental toughness is extremely important for us right now,” Paul said, “and we’ve got to persevere and continue to do work to improve.”

Michigan will be looking for its first victory next week at Jacksonville.

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