The newly formed Michigan men’s lacrosse team has again shown its inability to keep up with faster-paced opponents, as it got blown out in the second half for the second straight game.

Michigan (0-2) lost its second game of the season on Saturday in State College, 16-9, to No. 17 Penn State (1-1).

The Nittany Lions put a lot of pressure on Michigan in the first half, outshooting the Wolverines 25-4. But Michigan was able to keep the game close with the help of eight saves from sophomore goalkeeper Dylan Westerhold and by keeping the tilt to a slow pace.

That pace kept the Nittany Lions’ offense at bay, and the Wolverines went into halftime having kept Penn State’s lead to a manageable two goals, trailing 4-2.

“Coming into halftime, I had a lot of positive things to say,” said Michigan coach John Paul. “We were executing our game plan out there.”

Michigan struggled to follow its game plan in the second half, though, as Penn State picked up the tempo of the game. Having scored the final two goals of the second quarter, Penn State picked up where it left off, by scoring the first three goals of the second half to take a 7-2 lead. The Nittany Lions would respond to freshman attackman Will Meter’s first goal of the season, which cut the deficit to 7-3, with six straight goals to take a 13-3 lead.

“We got into a pace we didn’t want to play,” Paul said. “The game became more of a transition game.”

Penn State was able to get Michigan out of its defensive mindset in the third quarter and was able to force mistakes with a much faster game. The Nittany Lions made the most of Michigan’s turnovers, scoring on nine of their 15 shots in the third quarter.

The game was just another learning experience for the young team. The transition from club lacrosse to Division-I lacrosse is very difficult for many reasons, and the biggest change for Michigan is the level of skill of its opponents.

But that is not changing the way the Wolverines are approaching the things they can control.

“We have a lot to improve on, but the one thing that I have no complaints about is our effort,” Paul said. “Our guys don’t quit.”

Michigan showed its mental toughness with a late rally, but it turned out to be too little, too late.

That mental toughness is something Michigan will look to maintain in the upcoming weeks. The next four games are all away, and the Wolverines will face a lot of adversity. This can be hard for a team used to having success — Michigan has gone 241-44 and clinched three Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association championships over its last 14 club seasons, with Paul at the helm.

Michigan will look to get back on that winning track against Denver next week.

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