Accustomed to dominating the club teams, the Michigan men’s lacrosse team had the tables turned against it, losing the last two games of its first fall season at the varsity level.

The Wolverines played two tough games against seasoned Division-I schools in the Nick Colleluori Classic in Philadelphia this weekend. The Wolverines lost to Saint Joseph’s and Towson, 9-5 and 14-2 respectively.

Fifth-year senior captain Trevor Yealy and freshman William Meter had the only two goals against Towson.

Though the regular season does not begin until the spring and these are just exhibition games, Michigan still took these games as ways to experience competing at the Division-I level.

“We played two (Division-I) teams, one of those being a really good team in Towson,” said Michigan coach John Paul. “It’s a really good test and it gave us two different looks on teams that play with different styles.”

The Wolverines were fully exposed to the schemes and strategies they will be facing in the regular season this spring, but unfortunately they struggled to keep up. Although Michigan lost those games, it still had an opportunity to learn about how top-flight programs compete and prepare themselves for the upcoming season.

“We learned a lot about ourselves,” Paul said. “It highlighted a lot of the things we’re going to need to get better at to be competitive in the (Division-I) level. I think everybody realized that they have a lot to work to do to be able to compete at this level, too.”

Entering this weekend, Michigan had played just two previous Division-I teams, Providence and Concordia. The Wolverines beat Concordia and lost to Providence in overtime, but this weekend was a better test of the Wolverines’ potential competition at the varsity level. Saint Joseph’s and Towson are perennial Division-I schools that gave the Wolverines some tough competition. They were obviously better prepared and more aggressive on the field.

“We were getting beat physically a little bit,” Paul said. “We need to pass better, we need to play better. But a lot of it is we need to get a lot tougher. We need to be a tougher team than we are right now, and that was apparent today.”

Before making the transition to varsity status, the Wolverines have had a lot of success. Michigan has competed with the best at the club level, vying for national championships over the years. But after making the switch, Paul noticed the difference between his team and the others.

“We’ve been able to compete at a really high level at the club level doing the things that we’ve always been doing with the athletes we’ve always had, but now everything has stepped up,” Paul said. “We’re playing against better athletes who have been in the D-I weight rooms for a longer time. They’re developed physically, they’re more skilled, they’re more athletic, and they’re used to playing at a higher level week in and week out.

“We’re all going to have to get used to being challenged constantly.”

The tournament the Wolverines competed in this weekend not only gave them the valuable experience competing against good Division-I teams, but it also helped raise money for cancer research. The Nick Colleluori Lacrosse Classic raises money for the HEADstrong Foundation, a group who uses the money for cancer research and blood cancer survivors.

“It’s a great event,” Paul said. “It’s a well-known lacrosse event. It’s got a lot of good teams, and it’s got great exposure in Philadelphia, and it’s a great cause. The Colleluori family raised a lot of money from this event for cancer research, and they do a wonderful job and they’re passionate about it. It’s an honor to be a part of it.”

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