Over the past three years, the Michigan men’s lacrosse team has been near unbeatable, earning three consecutive MCLA National Championship titles. In fact, the seniors on the team have yet to see a season that doesn’t end in a championship.
Over that three year span, the team has won an impressive 58 games, and lost only one. The team’s success has put it into the national spotlight, with rumors of a future rise to Division-I status becoming more and more widespread.
“The bottom line is that Dave Brandon and the Athletic Department are working toward that goal,” Michigan coach John Paul said.
While this year’s team is younger than in the past, expectations for Michigan are still high. For a team with the sort of success that the Wolverines have recently achieved, the only acceptable end to a season is a championship.
“I think when you have gotten to the point of success that we have had over the past years, winning a championship has to be a goal,” Paul said.
But the team has suffered some major losses. Most of these are concentrated to the midfield, with the loss of last year’s faceoff specialist David Reinhard among the most notable. His near 70 percent faceoff success rate was an advantage easy to get accustomed to and is difficult to replace.
“We are going to be relying on kids who may not have had huge impacts in previous seasons,” senior captain and starting defender Harry Fried said. “We have a lot of new guys in the mix, and that makes it a little bit exciting, but a little different at the same time.”
Some of these issues surfaced in the 18-11 preseason loss against Bellamine, an NCAA Division-I opponent. Several holes in the Wolverine defense were exposed and faceoffs were inconsistent. Even with the minor hiccups, Paul wasn’t concerned.
“Our scrimmage last week exposed some things that we still need to be working on,” Paul said. “But, that’s what these scrimmages are for. We worked on our defense in practice this week.”
The team continued to work through the preseason, using it to get better and hit stride come the beginning of the season. In their most recent matchup, the team earned a better result, defeating Wittenberg by a score of 13-9 on Friday.
Still, faceoffs and defense have been the weak links for Michigan after two pre-season games.
Nonetheless, a high powered offense lead by seasoned stars like senior attackman Trevor Yealy was enough to put the Wolverines past Wittenberg.
“We are going to have to find a faceoff guy who will have his own way of success,” Fried said. “I think what we are going to see, is that the guys filling in are going to give this team its own identity.”
Despite key losses due to graduation, the Michigan men’s lacrosse team believes that they will continue to experience the success that they have become accustomed to.
Only a championship is acceptable.